Chinese Helo to Enter Service
By WENDELL MINNICK
TAIPEI – China has modified a military helicopter for commercial applications, according to a Nov. 6 China Daily report.
The new AC313 is scheduled to receive an airworthiness certification by the end of the year and enter service in 2012, said Wu Ximing, chief designer of AVIC's China Helicopter Research and Development Institute (CHRDI).
The 13-ton AC313 is the largest civil helicopter developed by China, but the design is based on the Chinese military's Changhe Z-8 helicopter. In 1977 the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) took delivery of 13 Aerospatiale SA 321Ja Super Frelon helicopters. China reversed engineered the Super Frelon to produce the Z-8, now in service in all three branches of China's military.
PLAN operates an anti-submarine and mine countermeasures Z-8 variant, the PLA Air Force operates a combat search-and-rescue (SAR) variant, and the PLA operates a troop transport variant.
The AC313 set a record as the first domestically developed helicopter to fly over the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau at an altitude of 26,200 feet, according to the CHRDI.
"AC313 helicopter last September and in August-September this year on two occasions to test flights of the Tibetan plateau, has created a series of home-made helicopter flight records," said a CHRDI press release.
The AC313 was developed by Avicopter Corp. Ltd., a joint venture between Aviation Industry Corporation of China and the Tianjin municipal government. The new helicopter can carry 27 passengers and be outfitted for a variety of missions, including SAR.