Chinese state-owned helicopter manufacturer Avicopter is working with Russia to develop a heavy-lift helicopter and hopes to have it flying within five to 10 years.
It will be greater than 20t and we are working with Russia “to do the feasibility study and work out the general configuration”, says Avicopter VP international operations and marketing Xia Qunlin. He says the partner is Russian Helicopters, the consortium that includes Mil.
Xia says they hope to have the helicopter flying within five to 10 years but adds that five years is his most optimistic forecast.
The impetus for the move was the May 2008 Sichuan earthquake which made it apparent that China needed more heavy-lift helicopters to help with the disaster relief effort, says Xia.
This will be a “civil helicopter but as you know heavy-lift helicopters” can be used for military purposes, he adds.
Xia also says Avicopter is working to upgrade its two tonne Z11 light helicopter but he fails to elaborate.
A spokeswoman for the Russian helicopter maker confirms talks are underway with China to develop a heavy-lift helicopter and that the Chinese want the helicopter to have a two person crew. But in the immediate term Russian Helicopters is focused on selling more Mil Mi-26T heavy-lift helicopters to China.
Last year, China bought a second Mi-26T and talks are underway to sell more, she says.
The Mi-26T has a five-person crew and the helicopter can take 80 passengers, she adds.
Source: Flight International