Eurocopter’s first EC175 heavy twin came one step closer to completion on 15 November as 50/50 partner in the development program, Harbin Aviation, delivered the first airframe structure for the 16-passenger helicopter at its facility in China.
Assembly of the initial EC175, known as the Z15 in China, will take place at Eurocopter’s Marignane facility, with first flight expected by the end of 2009. European certification is expected in 2011, with Chinese certification by 2012 and deliveries to follow.
Eurocopter reports more than 115 orders for the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-67AE-powered twin, which will feature a five-blade Spheriflex main rotor, three-blade tail rotor, four-axis duplex autopilot and five flat panel cockpit displays. Launch customers, USA’s Bristow Group and Canada-based VIH Aviation Group signed on for the EC175 at its unveiling in February and China’s Longken General Aviation Cooperation earlier this month signed a letter of intent to purchase five Z15s.