China and Russia have entered into an agreement on the joint production of a new heavy-lift helicopterthat will be especially beneficial to China. Russian Helicopters and Aviation Industry Corp of China have so far engaged in 17 rounds of talks about the helicopter’s development and production. All technological requirements, work assignments, collaboration methods and schedules are ready to go.
Huang Chuanyue is the deputy chief engineer at Avicopter, the helicopter branch of Aviation Industry Corp of China. He spoke with reporters at the recent 2017 China Helicopter Development Forum that was held in Tianjin.
“The helicopter will be jointly developed and manufactured. The research, development and assembly will be in China, while the production of some key parts will be in Russia.”
Huang added that the new heavy-lift helicopter will be different from those already in use because of the unique geographical needs that arise in China.
“China has multiple landforms including plateaus, mountainous regions, and plains, so the helicopter must be able to operate in every landform,” he explained. “Foreign helicopters have not met our needs, especially those in plateaus and mountains.”
In addition to mountain ranges and plateaus, China also has many islands that are difficult to access. This has long been a huge problem since the country is often hit by natural disasters. The new helicopter will also be very useful for creating infrastructure in both the mountainous terrain as well as on the many islands. It will also be better than anything else in China in terms of its carrying capacity.
“It will be capable of taking 10 metric tons of cargo, or more than 100 people inside the cabin, or carrying 15 tons of freight in an external sling,” Huang shared. “By comparison, the AC313, currently the strongest type, can carry four tons inside the cabin or lift five tons outside the body.”
The Aviation Industry Corp of China reports that this new helicopter will feature a maximum takeoff weight of 38.2 metric tons. It will fly at a maximum cruising speed of 300 kilometers per hour, which translates into approximately 186.4 miles per hour. The helicopter will be able to fly at altitudes up to 5,700 meters (just over 3.5 miles). It will have a range of 630 km or just over 391 miles.
Currently, there are three notable heavy-lift helicopters in the world.
- The United State’s Boeing CH-47 Chinookis likely the most recognized
- The U.S. Military flies the Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion
- Russia boasts their Mil Mi-26 series
Both the United States and Russia are constantly working to upgrade their heavy-lift helicopters in order to maintain their world dominance in the market. The new heavy-lift helicopter to be made collaboratively by China and Russia may very well change that domination.
It will be interesting to see how long it takes for China and Russia to actually have this helicopter in production, and to learn how many they plan to manufacture. China’s terrain and overall enormous expanse will surely require more than just one.
Do you expect the U.S. will strive to beat out this upcoming heavy-lift helicopter in order to maintain its world dominance in the field? Might Russia also upgrade its own helicopters or will they be satisfied with their collaboration with China? Surely the aviation world will be waiting and watching.