Work is under way to improve aircraft derivatives in a bid to boost sales of existing products in China and overseas

China Aviation Industry II (AVIC II) is working on a raft of helicopter and civil aircraft derivatives in an effort to boost sales of its current products in China and grab a bigger share of a growing export market.

It has also started development of an all-new (13,200lb) class twin-turboshaft utility helicopter with integrated avionics, says AVIC II vice-president Liang Zhenhe. Studies of a twin-engined 10t helicopter are also under way.

AVIC II produces the Z-8, Z-9, Z-11 and EC120 under licence. With a maximum take-off weight of 13,000kg, the three-turboshaft Z-8A is the largest helicopter built in China. A version, the Z-8F, re-engined with the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6B-67A is under development, fitted with anti-ice-equipped composite blades. Liang says the changes will raise time between overhauls to 3,500h from 500h, and the ceiling will increase from 10,000ft (3,050m) to 15,400ft.

A further upgrade of the Z-9 twin-turbine multirole helicopter, the H-425, is under development, with an improved rotor system, avionics, structure, cabin and crashworthy fuel tanks. The Z-9 is a licence-produced version of the Eurocopter AS365N Dauphin. A re-engined variant, the H-410A, was certificated last year, while an H-450 with improved rotor, transmission and control system plus ducted tail rotor, is being studied.

AVIC II is applying for government approval to re-engine the single-turbine Z-11 to improve hot-and-high performance, while a concept study of a twin- engined Z-11B is under way.

A high-altitude version of the Y-12 twin-turboprop utility aircraft has been certificated. The Y-12E has more powerful engines, four-bladed propellers and new avionics. Liang says the company is designing a cargo version, designated Y-12G, which would feature a side cargo door and would carry three LD3 containers. Also in the concept study phase is the pressurised Y-12F, which would fly faster and have a retractable landing gear.

Meanwhile, the latest version of the four-engined Y-8, the F400, had its first flight last year and is due to be certificated by year-end. The F400 requires three cockpit crew, compared with the previous five, and has a redesigned nose and cockpit to accommodate a new avionics system.

Another derivative, the F600, is in full-scale development and features more powerful engines equipped with six-bladed propellers and a two-crew cockpit. First flight is due in 2003. A stretched model, the Y-8F800, is under study, featuring a revamped wing and undercarriage, which would be capable of carrying a 30,000kg payload over 7,770km (4,200nm).

Source: Flight International