China’s first unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV), the Lijian or Sharp Sword, made its first flight on November 21. The event took place at an unidentified flight-test site in southwest China after several months of ground testing. The first flight lasted approximately 20 minutes, and unofficial video footage was soon available on Chinese websites.
Aviation Industry Corporation of China
The People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) state-owned and -operated Aviation Industry Corporation of China (Avic) presented a full line of its products and plans for further expansion of its export markets at last month’s Aviation Expo China exhibition, which was held in the Chinese capital, Beijing. The centerpiece of the Avic display was a line-up of models of those military aircraft programs that the conglomerate has been permitted to make public.
Chinese media recently reported that Avic officials have ambitions of entering the high-speed rotorcraft market. The airframer’s helicopter subsidiary is developing helicopters that will be able to reach 270 knots, said president Lin Zuoming. Meanwhile, Avicopter general manager Cai Yi stated, “Avicopter civil helicopters can join the ranks of the world’s most advanced,” adding that his company has mastered core technologies in key areas such as rotors, flight controls and avionics.
The first Embraer Legacy 650 super-midsize built in China completed its maiden flight yesterday. It was assembled by Harbin Embraer Aircraft Industry (HEAI), the joint venture between Embraer and Aviation Industry Corporation of China (Avic) that previously manufactured EMB-145 regional jets upon which the Legacy is based.
China’s first jet-powered stealth unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), the Lijian or “Sharp Sword,” was recently spotted undergoing taxiing tests in that country. Analysts interpreted the sighting as indicating that the Lijian’s maiden flight is imminent.
The fatal crash of an Su-27UBK fighter trainer of the China’s People Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) in late March has called attention to the lack of advanced jet trainers for pilots of China’s third-generation fighters, the Su-27, J-10 and J-11. But although the L-15 has been under development by Nanchang-based Hongdu Aviation Industry Group (HAIG), there is no confirmation from within China that the PLAAF has placed a substantial production order.
Though business aviation is still young in China, the country has been quick to make clear its intention not just to be a consumer of imported business aircraft, but to be active as a manufacturer of them too. So far, partnerships with foreign airframers have been the main path to this goal, but now China’s Avic group has started work on its own design for what it calls the China New Generation Business Jet.
Honeywell Aerospace’s business and general aviation division started putting down roots in the key emerging market of China just over seven years ago in 2005. Today, the U.S. group believes it has one of the strongest aftermarket networks in the country and, indeed, throughout the Asia Pacific region, with some 42 dealers and service facilities now in place.
With the rapid development of China’s economy, business aviation is viewed by many in the country as a so-called “Blue Ocean industry” with vast potential. As estimated by Embraer in its last market forecast, by 2020 China may represent a market for as many as 635 business jets. Bombardier is even more optimistic, projecting a need for almost 1,000 more business jets in the coming decade.
State-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (Avic, Booth No. C1521) brought its Avicopter rotorcraft unit for the first time to Heli-Expo.
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