AgustaWestland is finalising a deal to sell A109E Power helicopters to China, which will include a provision to licence-manufacture the twin-engined machine. China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corp (CATIC) and AgustaWestland expect to complete an agreement shortly for CATIC to purchase an initial two eight-seat A109 Powers with options for another six machines. The A109s are destined for provincial parapublic operators, including law enforcement agencies.

AgustaWestland has set a target of selling between 40 and 50 helicopters in China over the next five years and says if there is the business case the helicopter could be produced locally. AVIC II subsidiary Changhe Aircraft Industries is the likely producer given sister company Harbin Aircraft Industries' involvement with Eurocopter building the slightly larger Z-9, a version of the AS365 Dauphin.

Meanwhile, China Aviation industry Corp II (AVIC II), has revealed images for the first time of its new 6,000kg (13,200lb) helicopter, which bears a strong resemblance to the Bell/Agusta AB139 and is almost certainly the 12-14 seat Chinese Medium Helicopter (CMH). The helicopter incorporates a transmission developed by Agusta and shows a close resemblance to the similar-sized five-bladed AB139. Both machines are powered by twin 1,252kW (1,700shp) Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-67 turboshafts.

One visible difference is the tail rotor, with the AVIC II image showing a scissors or narrow X-type blade configuration compared to the AB-139's four-blade canted tail rotor. The CMH is also depicted sporting a ventral fin.

Changhe Aircraft in the meantime plans to re-engine the locally developed 2,000kg-class Z-11 with the same Turbomeca Arriel 2B1 engine that powers the very similar Eurocopter AS350B3 Squirrel.

Source: Flight International