AHS Mourns Passing of Marat Tishchenko

In Memoriam

Professor Marat Tishchenko
Soviet Designer; Russian and American Educator

Marat Nikolayevich TishchenkoMarat Nikolayevich Tishchenko – head of the Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant from 1970 to 1991 – passed away on March 13 after a long illness. He had just turned 84 on February 18.

Tishchenko (sometimes transliterated as “Tischenko”) was born in the USSR in 1931 in what is now Kharkiv, Ukraine. At the Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI), he specialized in helicopter construction; in 1954, while a student, he set an FAI-recognized world record for flight duration of a model helicopter. 

Tishchenko completed his studies with honors at MAI in 1956, whereupon he joined the Mil Experimental Design Bureau (which had been founded in 1947) as an aerodynamicist. He soon “elaborated [a] method of computing main rotor aerodynamic characteristics, taking into account non-linear profile features on the basis of blade vortex theory, thus ensuring high accuracy in calculating [a] helicopters’ flight characteristics,” according to the 1998 history, Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant – 50 Years" by V.R. Mikheyev. 

In 1961, Mil placed Tishchenko in charge of the aerodynamics team, and two years later he began leading the preliminary design department, then the overall design department. Tishchenko directly participated in designing the Mi-2, Mi-6, Mi-8 and V-12 helicopters. In 1967, after defending his dissertation, Tishchenko became a deputy chief designer, and Mil entrusted him with developing the 230,000 lb (105 t) V-12 “Homer” – the largest helicopter ever flown.

When Mikhail Mil passed away in 1970, Tishchenko was appointed Chief Designer, in charge of all 5,000 employees; he was only 39 years old. Over the next 21 years, the Mil Design Bureau would develop some of the most capable helicopters in the world. Perhaps the crowning achievement of his career was leading the design and development of the Mi-26, the world’s largest operational helicopter – even to this day – which made its first flight in 1977. In the 1980s, the Mi-28 attack helicopter and civil Mi-34 were developed, as well as continued modernization of the Mi-8, Mi-14, Mi-24 and Mi-26.

In 1976, building on unorthodox methods evolved in the design bureau, Tishchenko and two other authors published the fundamental research work, "Helicopters – The Choice of Design Parameters," which was subsequently translated into English. In 1981, Tishchenko defended his Doctoral of Science thesis and was elected a full member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences; this same year his title at Mil was elevated to General Designer.

Tishchenko was awarded the Lenin Prize in 1976, the title of a Hero of Socialist Labor (1982) and two Order of Lenin medals. For its contribution to the development of the national helicopter industry, the helicopter plant was decorated with the Order of the Red Banner of Labor in 1977. In 1991, Tishchenko retired from the Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant, as it was by then called (Mark Vainberg succeeded him). He continued lecturing, as he had since 1977 as a professor of the Helicopter Design Department at MAI.

During his 35-year career at Mil, the plant introduced or created major modifications of 36 military and civilian helicopters. In terms of production quantities, at the time of his retirement, Tishchenko had “participated” in the development of 75-80% of the Soviet Union’s helicopters.

Tishchenko joined AHS in 1986 and established the Russian Helicopter Society in 1991, serving as its president for many years. In 1998, he joined the University of Maryland’s Rotorcraft Center when the school began participating in the AHS Student Design Competition. Tishchenko served the Rotorcraft Center as a visiting professor for a period of 3–6 months, and then returned almost every year thereafter. The University of Maryland won a first place prize in the graduate category that first year and repeatedly through 2005, and has continued to place first in most subsequent years. Tishchenko also contributed to early Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) research at Maryland, while continuing to lecture at MAI in Moscow until he became too ill; MAI noted that he was the oldest member of the faculty at the time of his passing.

AHS bestowed upon Tishchenko the AgustaWestland International Helicopter Fellowship Award (1992), the Dr. Alexander Klemin Award (1995) and a Technical Fellowship (1994). AHS also awarded the Igor I. Sikorsky International Trophy to the Mil Design Bureau for the V-12 (1961 - the inaugural year) and for the Mi-26 in 1970. Tishchenko was a frequent attendee of the AHS Forum, and co-authored numerous AHS papers and articles, including a retrospective on saving the world from the Chernobyl nuclear reactor meltdown (see below).

VFF Scholarship Fund

To honor Professor Marat Tishchenko and his contributions to helicopter development, as well as the education of helicopter engineers worldwide, donations are sought for the AHS Vertical Flight Foundation, in order to award a memorial scholarship in his name. Donations can be made through www.vtol.org/vff, designated for the “Marat Tishchenko Scholarship Fund,” or by contacting AHS International headquarters.


AHS Publications

Technical Papers

Unmanned Transport Helicopters
Presented at Forum 55 (1999) 

Design of a High-Speed Compound Helicopter with a Wing, Pusher Propeller and Intermeshing Main Rotors
Presented at the Vertical Lift Aircraft Design Conference (2000) 

Helicopters in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Disaster
Presented at Forum 59 (2003) 

Design and Testing of a Micro-Aerial Vehicle with a Single Rotor and Turning Vanes
Presented at Forum 61 (2005)             


Helicopter or Tiltrotor: A Soviet View
Vertiflite, September/October 1990

Could The Mi-26 Perform the JTR Functions?
Vertiflite, Summer 2000

Design, Development, and Testing of a Shrouded Single-Rotor Micro Air Vehicle with Antitorque Vanes
Journal of AHS, January 2011

Posted April 3, 2015