Partners sought to help develop twin-engined helicopter in 2,500-4,000kg range

China is seeking to manufacture a civil twin-engined helicopter in the 2,500-4,000kg (5,500-8,800lb) category to fill the gap between its new Eurocopter HC120 and AgustaWestland A109E programmes.

Industry sources say China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC) began preliminary talks last month with several Western manufacturers interested in a partnership role in the new project. China has not yet decided whether to select a Western-developed helicopter to assemble, or instead co-develop a new helicopter using some imported technology.

CATIC parent China Aviation Industries II is already pursuing the latter strategy in developing a 6,000kg civil helicopter, but last year also signed contracts for the future local assembly of the A109 and EC120. Local assembly lines for MD Helicopters and Schweizer models have already been set up.

The Western companies supporting these four assembly lines and Bell Helicopter, which so far has only lined up AVIC II as a future Model 430 fuselage supplier, are all competing to be selected as the partner for the two new programmes.

However, sources say talks on the new 6,000kg aircraft have stalled since the programme was unveiled last October.

AVIC II subsidiaries in Changhe and Harbin are competing to be selected as the manufacturer for both new helicopters.


Source: Flight International