Agusta has signed a deal at Farnborough to team with Chinese company AVIC on the Chinese Medium Helicopter Programme (CMHP). The Italian manufacturer will provide transmissions and technical support for the aircraft and is close to sealing an agreement for licence production of the A109K2 twin-engine machine.
Unveiling the memorandum of understanding (MoU), Fulvio Maurogiovanni, Agusta's area sales director for Asia, said: "China offers massive potential for growth and is a market that is only just being explored. We believe that by building a strong alliance now we will be able to take advantage of future opportunities.²
The helicopter is being developed with Chinese Government funding for both the military and civil sectors and will be in the 5.5-tonne class. AVIC will build the airframe but will seek additional Western support to help integrate the latest avionics and systems, to which it has no immediate access.
The first prototype is scheduled to fly in late 2003. AVIC's design institutes No 608 and 602 have been instrumental in shaping the aircraft, which is being targeted at police and government use among other missions.
Agusta will design, manufacture and test the initial three transmissions and then collaborate with AVIC engineers on a further four. The long-term plan is to extend the agreement to cover additional manufacture and licence building of other types.
The A109K2 is a higher-powered version of the A109 Power, designed to cope with hot and high conditions, and is already operational in the Middle East.
Agusta has an existing foothold in China with sales of A109 Powers to the municipality of Dalian police force in the north of the country. Maurogiovanni says Agusta will offer ATIC sub-contracting work on some of its helicopter models as an incentive to future co-operation.
Source: Flight Daily News