Maiden flight show­cases chop­per in­dus­try progress

China is able to de­velop and pro­duce best civil­ian he­li­copters, de­signer says

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By ZHAO LEI in Harbin zhaolei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China con­ducted the maiden flight of a new util­ity he­li­copter on Tues­day morn­ing in Harbin, cap­i­tal of Hei­long jiang prov­ince, which de­sign­ers said in­di­cates the na­tion has be­come a top de­vel­oper of civil­ian he­li­copters.

The sil­ver AC352 made a 10-minute flight as hun­dreds of gov­ern­ment and mil­i­tary of­fi­cials, re­searchers and work­ers as well as rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Air­bus He­li­copters watched at Harbin Air­craft In­dus­try Group, a man­u­fac­turer of the he­li­copter .

s China’s first 7-met­ric-ton class he­li­copter, the AC352 was code­vel­oped by Avi­copter, par­ent com­pany of Harbin Air­craft In­dus­try, and Air­bus He­li­copters, start­ing in 2006. The two sides ex­pect to sell about 800 to 1,000 AC352s — which Air­bus He­li­copters refers to as H175 — over the com­ing 20 years, with the prof- it from sales to be split equally, Avi­copter of­fi­cials said.

The he­li­copter has a max­i­mum take­off weight of 7.5 tons and a cruise speed of 280 kilo­me­ters per hour, while its flight range is at least 1,000 km, ac­cord­ing to Avi­copter.

Avi­copter said the AC352 is one of the most com­fort­able and eco-friendly medi­um­sized he­li­copters in the world, adding that in ad­di­tion to two pi­lots, the he­li­copter can trans­port up to 16 pas­sen­gers.

Lu Wei­jian, chief de­signer of the AC352 at Avi­copter, said his com­pany is re­spon­si­ble for a lot of the he­li­copter’s ma­jor com­po­nents, such as the main ro­tor and flight con­trol sys­tem.

“This shows that China is now able to de­velop and pro­duce the best civil­ian he­li­copters,” he told re­porters af­ter the maiden flight cer­e­mony. “We co­op­er­ated with our Euro­pean part­ner on this pro­ject be­cause both sides be­lieved that such col­lab­o­ra­tion would make full use of our ca­pa­bil­i­ties, and re­duce busi­ness and tech­nol­ogy risks.”

Yang Guangchao, pro­ject man­ager of the AC352 at Avi­copter, said that Western he­li­copter giants such as Air­bus He­li­copters are will­ing to work with China be­cause it has be­come a strong player in the he­li­copter in­dus­try.

Cao Shengli, gen­eral man­ager of Harbin Air­craft In­dus­try, said the AC352 can carry out mul­ti­ple op­er­a­tions, such as off­shore trans­port, search and res­cue, po­lice pa­trol and med­i­cal air ser­vices. He added that the he­li­copter will be de­liv­ered to do­mes­tic users around 2018.

The Euro­pean model, the H175, made its maiden flight in De­cem­ber 2009 in France and was cer­ti­fied in Jan­uary 2014 by the Euro­pean Avi­a­tion Safety Agency. It started to be de­liv­ered to buy­ers in De­cem­ber 2014, ac­cord­ing to Air­bus He­li­copters.

How­ever, some tech­no­log­i­cal is­sues re­lated to the Chi­nese ver­sion’s en­gine re­sulted in a de­lay in its test flight, Yang said.

CHEN XIAO / FOR CHINA DAILY

Peo­ple take a close look at the AC352 util­ity he­li­copter af­ter it fin­ished its maiden flight in Harbin, Hei­longjiang prov­ince, on Tues­day.

LIU YANG / FOR CHINA DAILY

An AC352 util­ity he­li­copter is seen dur­ing its maiden flight on Tues­day.

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