China’s Avicopter, part of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) group, flew its AC313 prototype heavy-lift helicopter for the first time on March 18 from its Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province, facility.
The 13.8 tonne AC313 flew for about half an hour in company with a chase Changhe Z-8 and AS350 Squirrel, televised live on China Central Television.
Able to carry up to 27 passengers over a range of 485nm (900km), the AC313 is powered by triple Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6B-67As and has been designed to service the transport, cargo, SAR, EMS, fire-fighting and offshore exploration roles.
The AC313 is a development of the Harbin Z-8, in turn an evolution of the Aerospatiale SA 321 Super Frelon, and is the largest helicopter manufactured in China. Avicopter says the AC313 will fill a gap in the country’s helicopter product line and will compete with the AgustaWestland AW101, Sikorsky S-92, Mil Mi-38 and Mi-17.
Flying Dragon Special Aviation will take delivery of the first of five leased AC313s following certification from the Civil Aviation Administration of China, expected in 2011. AVIC will then seek both EASA and FAA certification.