The Avicopter AC352 medium-twin helicopter (previously known as the Z15, the Chinese version of the jointly developed Eurocopter EC175) is now expected to make its maiden flight in the second half of this year in China, according to Europe- and Asia-based industry sources. Entry into service is then expected late next year or early 2016. Certification had previously been planned for this year.
The delay is attributable mainly to the engine change, one source explained. The AC352 will use the Turbomeca/Avic Engine Ardiden 3C/WZ16 in place of the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-67Es that power the EC175, which first flew in 2009 and is now close to EASA certification. Airbus Helicopters (née Eurocopter) and Avicopter have shared the EC175/AC352 program 50-50, the latter company holding responsibility for the fuselage, among other subassemblies. However, certification efforts, customer support networks and marketing areas are distinct.
Airbus Helicopters and Avicopter have agreed that the AC352 can be sold only in China and a small number of countries close to China where Airbus would be unlikely to sell any EC175s, one of the sources told AIN.