China Certifies Avic’s Heavy-lift AC313 Helo
Yesterday, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) certified the country’s “new” homegrown heavy-lift helicopter, the AC313. It tips the scales at 27,600 pounds, can carry up to 27 people and has a maximum ferry range of 560 miles and service ceiling of nearly 28,000 feet. The helicopter was built by state-owned Avic, the same company that recently made Chinese-market Sikorsky S-76 airframes under contract. The AC313 appears to be an outgrowth of the 14,000-pound Chinese Zhi-8, which is a medium helicopter based on the 1970s-vintage Aerospatiale SA321 Super Frelon, a design that dates back to the early 1960s. However, the AC313 has been updated with modern avionics, a trio of Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6B-67A engines (1,200 shp each) and composite main rotor blades. Avic plans to pursue certification of the AC313 in export markets, including the U.S. When the helicopter made its first flight in March 2010, state-run newspaper China Daily hailed it as a “breakthrough in domestic aviation technology.” Deliveries of AC313s are scheduled to begin later this year.