Shijiazhuang Aircraft Industry plans to deliver its first LE-500 trainer next June and has designed a new larger variant dubbed the LE-800.
The LE-500, an EADS Socata TB20 lookalike that flew for the first time last October, is on schedule to receive Chinese type certification in January, says First Design Institute engineer Sun Jinhong. He says 25 aircraft have already been ordered by pilot training schools, the first of which will be delivered in June. Sun adds another 200 potential orders are in the pipeline.
Shijiazhuang developed the LE-500 last year with the help of First Aircraft Institute and The Chinese Civil Aviation Flight Institute (Flight International, 14-20 October 2003). The trio unveiled at the Zhuhai air show earlier this month a model of the LE-800, seating eight to 10 passengers. Sun says this has just been designed and no flight-test schedule has been set.
The LE-500 and LE-800 are two of several small aircraft development projects under way in China as local manufacturers anticipate soaring demand for training and recreational aircraft. Nanjing University first flew the AC500 Sky Car five-seat turboprop in May and says it plans to hand over sales of the aircraft to a company in Jiangsu province. Nanjing has also designed a small unmanned air vehicle called the NH-1, which will only be sold if there is market demand.
The China Helicopter Research and Design Institute (CHRDI) unveiled at Zhuhai a mock-up of a single-seat super-light 130kg (285lb) helicopter. CHRDI says the aircraft, developed in Jiangxi province as a joint venture project with an American-Chinese businessman, is scheduled to fly for the first time in early 2005. CHRDI says an earlier 116kg version of the same aircraft flew last year, and the new version features an improved rotor and tail. CHRDI also has developed agriculture spray UAV and aerial photography UAV helicopters.
BRENDAN SOBIE / ZHUHAI