China-Developed AC312E Helicopter Completes Plateau Tests
(Source: China Daily; issued Nov 23, 2017)
Despite claims the AC312E is the “first light twin-engined civil helicopter ever developed in China,” it is clear that it is simply a variant of the Aérospatiale (now Airbus) Dauphin that is in widespread military and civil service in China. (Xinhua photo)
AC312E, the first light twin-engine civil helicopter ever developed in China, completed all plateau test flights Tuesday at Ninglang Luguhu Airport, a commercial airport that sits at an altitude of 3,293 meters in Southwest China's Yunnan province, according to Xinhua News Agency.

The helicopter, which made its maiden flight July 2016, was developed by AVIC Harbin Aircraft Industry Group, a subsidiary of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).

It can carry nine passengers, with a maximum take-off weight of 4.25 metric tons and a maximum payload of 1.7 tons.

On the Tibetan Plateau, where the natural and geographical features are complex, AC312E has reached 6,300 meters above sea level.

In addition, taking off at an airport at an altitude of 4,500 meters and cruising at an altitude of 5,000 meters, the aircraft has reached a range of 500 kilometers with a 500-kilogram payload.

"Installed with world-class Arriel 2H heli-engines, AC312E has shown good performance in the plateau environment. Under the same conditions, it is superior to competitors in effective payload, range and endurance and it has more possibilities in space modification and higher transport efficiency," Li Shengwei, deputy chief designer of the aircraft, said.

To meet individual client demands, the helicopter can be expanded to four specialist models for emergency medical services, search and rescue, business transport and law enforcement.

Last November, the first order for the AC312E came from the China Aero Geophysical Survey and Remote Sensing Center.

The Tibet Development and Investment Group signed an intention agreement to buy four AC312E helicopters this September.

Gu Haicheng, vice-general manager of AVIC Harbin Aircraft Industry Group, told CZTV website that the AC312E is expected to get an airworthiness certificate and be put on the market in 2018.

Rabi Sankar Bosu, secretary of New Horizon Radio Listeners' Club, said China's helicopter industry has been on a steady rise over the last decade and the market value is expected to reach 1 trillion yuan ($147.2 billion), according to the China Radio International website.

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