China, Rus­sia to co-de­velop heavy-lift he­li­copter in 2016

Air­craft ex­pected to cor­ner about 25% of in­ter­na­tional mar­ket, in­dus­try ex­pert says

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICAS - By ZHAO LEI in Tian­jin zhaolei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China and Rus­sia are close to fi­nal­iz­ing an agree­ment to jointly de­velop a heavy-lift he­li­copter next year, ac­cord­ing to se­nior Chi­nese he­li­copter de­sign­ers.

“The pro­ject is pro­gress­ing smoothly, and we are dis­cussing with our Rus­sian coun­ter­parts terms and clauses in the agree­ment. The ne­go­ti­a­tions should con­clude be­fore the end of this year and the de­vel­op­ment will start next year,” saidWuXim­ing, chief he­li­copter de­signer at Avi­a­tion In­dus­try Corp of China, at the Third China He­li­copter Expo, which opened on Wed­nes­day in Tian­jin.

The new he­li­copter’s pro­duc­tion will be based inChina, he said, adding it will use the Ukraine-made Lotarev D-136 tur­boshaft en­gine at the ini­tial mass-pro­duc­tion stage.

“Our ex­ist­ing tur­boshaft en­gines’ max­i­mum out­put power is about 1,000 kilowatts, not pow­er­ful enough to pro­pel the heavy-lift he­li­copter. The Chi­nese engi­neers are de­vel­op­ing a 5,000-kilo­watt tur­boshaft en­gine that can be used by the air­craft in the fu­ture,” he said.

Lin Zuom­ing, AVIC’s chair­man, said on Tues­day that he ex­pects the he­li­copter to con­duct its first flightaround2020.

Huang Chuanyue, deputy chief engi­neer at Avi­copter, AVIC’s he­li­copter branch, said thatChina re­al­ized in 2008 that it needs a heavy-lift he­li­copter fol­low­ing a dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake in Sichuan province. The lack of such air­craft made it very dif­fi­cult for re­lief forces to trans­port ur­gently needed ma­te­ri­als to­moun­tain­ousar­eas af­fected by the dis­as­ter, he said.

China then de­cided to co­op­er­ate with Rus­sia, which has ex­pe­ri­ence and knowhow in the he­li­copter in­dus­try, to de­velop a heavy-lift he­li­copter to serve civil­ian pur­poses.

Af­ter sev­eral years of ne­go­ti­a­tions, AVIC andRus­sianHeli­copters signed a co­op­er­a­tion frame­work agree­ment on the pro­ject in­Moscow in­May.

“The he­li­copter will use China’s world-class avionics sys­tems and ad­vanced ma­te­ri­als, while Rus­sia will be re­spon­si­ble for the aero­dy­namic de­sign, trans­mis­sion gear and de-ic­ing equip­ment,” Huang said.

Ac­cord­ing to AVIC, the air­craft will have a max­i­mum take­off weight of 38.2 met­ric tons and a max­i­mum cruis­ing speed of 300 km/h. It will be ca­pa­ble of fly­ing at al­ti­tudes

mainly up to 5,700 me­ters and have a range of 630 km.

Huang said it will be able to carry 10 tons of cargo, or more than 100 peo­ple in­side the cabin, or 15 tons in an ex­ter­nal sling.

“Com­pared with Rus­sia’s MilMi-26, now the largest he­li­copter used in China, the new air­craft will be­more­adapt­able to plateaus and trop­i­cal re­gions,” he said. “This is very im­por­tant be­cause China has vast plateau ar­eas and moun­tain­ous ter­rain, as well as many is­lands that are dif­fi­cult to ac­cess by other means. That has been an ex­tremely se­ri­ous prob­lem be­cause China is of­ten hit by nat­u­ral dis­as­ters.”

The air­craft will also be of value for build­ing in­fra­struc­ture in moun­tain­ous ter­rain and on is­lands.

Huang said China will need at least 200 heavy-lift he­li­copters within the com­ing 30 years, and the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket’s de­mand will reach about 2,000 in that time.

“We ex­pect this he­li­copter will cor­ner about 25 per­cent of the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket for this type,” he said.

Cur­rently, heavy-lift he­li­copters in use in­clude the United States’ Boe­ing CH-47 Chi­nook, Siko­rskyCH-53ESu­perS­tal­lion and Rus­sia’s Mil Mi-26 se­ries. The US and Rus­sia con­tinue to up­grade these types and as­pire to main­tain their joint dom­i­nance of the heavy-lift he­li­copter mar­ket, observers said.

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