Bristol Group and VIH Aviation Group have become the first launch customers for Eurocopter's new 7t-class helicopter, the EC175. The 16-set turbine twin is being developed jointly with China's Harbin Aviation Industry.
Eurocopter announced the launch customers druing the unveiling of a full-scale mockup of the EC175 at the Heli-Expo show in Houston, Texas. More customers are to be announced during the show, it says.
Design of the EC175 was frozen at the end of 2007, and manufacture of the first prototype is under way, says Eurocopter. First flight is scheduled for 2009, with European certification expected in 2011.
While Eurocopter is leading the programme, development and production are being shared 50:50 with Harbin, which is part of China's AVIC II aviation industrial group.
The EC175 will be powered by digitally controlled Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-67E
turboshafts, and will feature a five-blade Spheriflex rotor, four-axis duplex autopilot and four flat-panel cockpit displays.