SINGAPORE 2010: Uncertainty over AVIC's Z-15

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Eurocopter's EC-175 helicopter that it is developing and producing in China with AVIC had its first flight in December but progress on development of the Chinese version, Z-15, is unclear.

"We started the EC-175 in China five years ago and we have reached all the milestones," Eurocopter CEO and president Lutz Bertling says at the Singapore Airshow.

First flight of the EC-175 was on the 4 December "and we have not encountered any major problems", he adds.

But development of the Z-15 is less clear.

"The Chinese partners decided to go with a second engine," says Bertling, adding that the Chinese are in negotiations with Turbomeca. The EC-175 is powered by Pratt & Whitney engines. Bertling declines to say why this is, adding: "We can't say what impact this will have on the programme", he adds.

In 2007, Pratt and Whitney Canada came under the media spotlight when it was discovered that the firm's engines were being used on the Chinese Z-10 attack helicopter.

The Z-15 is a medium utility helicopter that can be used for civil and military purposes.