Chinese light helo makes first flight
China-based Avicopter announced on November 9 the first flight of its first indigenously developed light single-engine helicopter, the AC311, in Tianjin. The helicopter, the design of which has likely inherited some lines from the light Eurocopter models that parent company Avic has long produced, has an mtow of 4,850 pounds and can carry six people.
It can be powered by either a Honeywell LTS101-700D-2 turboshaft or a local design, the WZ-8D. The AC311 is also said to feature "highly integrated" avionics.
Chinese certification is expected next year, with entry into service slated for 2012. Avicopter officials believe there is a market for 500 helicopters over the next 10 years in China.
Quoted in the Chinese media, Avicopter general manager Wang Bin said that AC311 technology and performance are close to international standards, while reducing acquisition cost by 10 to 15 percent compared with its competitors. Avicopter has already signed contracts for two AC311s with the police forces of Guiyang and the Tianjin Binhai New District.
Avicopter is a joint venture between China-based airframer Avic and the municipal government of Tianjin, where its factory is located.