Safran expands engine partnership with AVIC

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Safran and China’s AVIC are evaluating an extension of their existing helicopter engine partnership to turboprop powerplants.

The project was revealed as their initial co-operation – the development of the Ardiden 3C turboshaft engine between Safran’s Turbomeca division and AVIC Engine – is nearing planned certification in 2015.

Safran and AVIC have signed a tentative agreement to study the feasibility of jointly developing “several components and modules” for turboprop engines, says the French group. It adds, however, that the study “does not cover an engine programme”.

Both partners also revealed a first order for up to 120 Ardiden 3C engines, which is designated WZ16 in China. The turboshaft powerplant has been jointly developed since 2008 for installation on the Avicopter AC352, the Chinese-built version of the Eurocopter EC175.

Ground tests of the Ardiden 3C – which began in 2013 – have confirmed the engine’s performance targets, says Safran.

Chinese certification of the powerplant is expected at the end of 2015.