MDHI's agreement with Boeing is expected to strengthen its search for new investors, while extra funding - possibly from Chinese sources - is expected to be announced by the end of April, says the company.

MDHI chief executive Henk Schaeken says selling a minority stake to Chinese investors is "one of many options under discussion right now" and he is also in talks with potential investors outside China.

Industry sources say the Chinese investors are interested in Dutch-owned MDHI because of the potential sale of 368 MD530-based armed reconnaissance helicopters to the US Army and, potentially, hundreds of similar helicopters to the Chinese Army. Any helicopters purchased by China would be assembled at Hongdu Aviation Industry, which last year began assembling civilian helicopters as a subcontractor to Hongdu MD Helicopters. Unarmed scout helicopters could be excluded from the US arms embargo on China, sources believe.

Source: Flight International