China, Russia to co-develop heavy-lift helicopter in 2016

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Aircraft expected to corner about 25% of international market, industry expert says

China and Russia are close to finalizing an agreement to jointly develop a heavy-lift helicopter next year, according to senior Chinese helicopter designers.

“The project is progressing smoothly, and we are discussing with our Russian counterparts terms and clauses in the agreement. The negotiations should conclude before the end of this year and the development will start next year,” said Wu Ximing, chief helicopter designer at Aviation Industry Corp of China, at the Third China Helicopter Expo, which opened on Wednesday in Tianjin.

Experts estimate that the demand for the new model in China could top 200 rotorcrafts for the period until 2040. It is assumed that the AHL take-off weight will be about 38 tons, while the maximum commercial payload inside the cabin – 10 tons and the external load – 15 tons. The helicopter will be designed for around-the-clock operation in hot climates, in highland areas and in all weather conditions. It will be suitable for a wide range of missions: transportation, evacuation, firefighting and many others.

It is proposed that the future Russian-Chinese heavy-lift helicopter will receive a Russian-made engine leveraging the technology of the domestically produced engine PD-14. The Perm aircraft designers are prepared to launch this engine into mass production. One of the PD-14 prototypes was unveiled at the MAKS-2015 air show.

The framework cooperation agreement for the advanced heavy-lift helicopter project was signed between Russian Helicopters and China Aviation Industry Corporation this May. Pursuant to the agreement, the parties will work together across all the areas of development and preparatory activities ahead of the mass production of the new Advanced Heavy Lift (AHL) rotorcraft.


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