China’s new Avicopter AC313A tri-engine, civil heavy-lift helicopter made its first flight yesterday, according to the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (Avic). Separately, Avic recently announced that its AC352 super-medium twin-engine helicopter had completed its final certification test fight after 422.5 hours over the course of nearly six years, and that type certification was expected later this year from the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
A modernized variant of the AC313, the A variant features a larger cabin with seating for 28 passengers, more efficient main rotor blades with rotor deicing, new engines, improved main transmission, modernized avionics, health usage and monitoring system, and 1,600-pound mtow increase, to 30,423 pounds. The AC313, which was certified in 2012, is an outgrowth of the 14,000-pound Chinese Zhi-8, a medium helicopter based on the 1970s-vintage Aerospatiale SA321 Super Frelon, a design that dates back to the early 1960s.
In a joint collaboration with Airbus, the AC352 is the locally-produced variant of the Airbus H175 but is powered by the Chinese-built WZ16 engine—the Chinese variant of the Safran Ardiden 3C. The H175 is powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-67Es and was certified in 2014. Under Avic's agreement with Airbus, 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.