China Flies New Heavy-lift Helicopter

 - March 25, 2010, 11:47 AM

Last week China flew a new home-grown heavy-lift helicopter for the first time. The AC313 tips the scales at 27,600 pounds, can carry up to 27 people, has a maximum ferry range of 560 miles and was built at state-owned AVIC, the same company making Sikorsky S-76C++ airframes. The AC313 appears to be an outgrowth of the 14,000-pound Chinese Zhi-8. That medium helicopter is based on the 1970s-vintage Aérospatiale SA321 Super Frelon. China Daily, the state-run newspaper, hailed the new helicopter as a “breakthrough in domestic aviation technology.” In addition to producing helicopters, AVIC is working on a jetliner, the Comac C919, that it hopes will challenge the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 by 2016. Another Chinese company, Avicopter, is developing the EC175 jointly with Eurocopter. China is expected to modify its low-altitude airspace restrictions over the next few years, a move that could trigger demand for more than 1,000 new civil helicopters there over the next two decades.