The first flight of the Avicopter AC352, powered by the Chinese-built WZ16 engine, took place today in Harbin, China. The AC352 is the Chinese-manufactured version of the Airbus Helicopters H175.
Certification of the AC352 has been delayed while the new engine has been under development. EASA certification of the new engine is now expected by the end of 2017 and CAAC approval sometime in 2018, Safran said.
The H175 was jointly developed by Airbus Helicopters and Avicopter, with Avicopter responsible for manufacturing the fuselage and certain subassemblies. The H175 is powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-67Es and was certified in 2014. 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 H175s.
The WZ16 engine is the Chinese variant of the Safran Ardiden 3C. Safran said the new-generation 1,500- to 2,000-shp turboshaft features compact modular architecture, a best-in-class power-to-weight ratio, low cost of ownership, and 10 percent lower fuel consumption than competitive engines. The new engine was a joint development and production project by Safran Helicopter Engines, CAPI and Dongan, parts of the new Aero Engine Corporation of China (AECC) consortium.