High hopes held for new civilian-use helicopter

2021-01-04 12:04:11

The Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), the country's major aircraft manufacturer, unveils a multi-purpose, civilian-use helicopter, AC332. [Photo/Global Times] Aviation Industry Corp of China, the nation's leading aircraft maker, has developed a new type of multifunctional helicopter for civilian use, especially on plateaus. Design work for the AC332 has been finished, the State-owned aviation conglomerate announced in Tianjin on Tuesday, with the first prototype scheduled to be built and make its debut flight next year. Test flights for airworthiness certification will begin in 2023 and conclude in 2025, the company said. It added that deliveries will also start in 2025. Li Shengwei, the AC332's chief designer, said users will find the twin-engine helicopter very useful in a wide range of operations, including emergency rescue, medical assistance, law enforcement and marine logistics support. "The helicopter will be especially useful when someone on a plateau needs assistance to transport personnel or cargo, conduct search and rescue, or provide medical aid in an efficient, rapid manner," Li said. Propelled by two high-power, fuel-efficient engines, the AC332 will have a maximum takeoff weight of about 3.9 metric tons and be capable of carrying 12 people - two pilots and 10 passengers. When deployed on a plateau, it will be able to carry passengers or supplies with a combined weight of 600 kilograms and travel 600 kilometers, Li said. Beidahuang General Aviation in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, signed a purchase intention agreement for two AC332s on Tuesday with AVIC Tianjin Helicopter, which will build the helicopters. In another development, the first AC312E assembled at AVIC Tianjin Helicopter made its initial flight test on Tuesday in Tianjin. AVIC has decided to move the assembly line for the twin-engine, light-duty helicopter from Harbin Aircraft Industry to Tianjin. The AC312E has a maximum takeoff weight of 4.25 tons and a maximum carrying capacity of 1.7 tons. Operated by two pilots, it can carry nine passengers. AVIC said it also plans to place manufacturing facilities for its AC352 medium-duty, multifunctional helicopter in Tianjin in the next few years.