China's indigenously developed Z-11 light helicopter has been cleared for commercial use. The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has awarded Changhe Aircraft Industries the country's "first permit for civil helicopter production", according to the Xinhua news agency.

The Z-11, a Chinese copy of the Eurocopter AS350B, has been certificated to rules modelled on USFAR Part 29 airworthiness regulations. The 2,000kg (4,400lb)-class helicopter first flew in 1994, and examples have been supplied to the Chinese military for liaison, training and scout missions.

The Z-11 is powered by a 685shp (510kW) Chinese Liming WZ-8D turboshaft. In 2001, Rolls-Royce signed an agreement with Changhe's parent, AVICII, to develop a twin-engined version of the Z-11 powered by the Model 250 turboshaft.

Civil orders for the Z-11 so far include an aircraft for China Central Television of Jiangxi Province, and another for Chongqing Three Gorges General Aviation Airlines. Likely customers for the certificated helicopter include a number of developing world countries that have purchased other Chinese general aviation aircraft.

Source: Flight International