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HC120 [EC-120] Helicopter

In 1993 the China Aviation Technology Import and Export Co. formed a joint venture with Singapore Aviation Industry to co-produce EC-120 light helicopters. China ordered 150 EC-120 for the Army Aviation Unit (AAU). The helicopter is designated HC-120 for the Chinese market.

The single-engine EC120 helicopter is designed to meet military and civilian requirements, including search-and-rescue and evacuation operations, as well as intelligence uses. The five-seat helicopter, with maximum take-off capacity of 1,715 kilograms and maximum voyage length of 750 kilometers, is considered an all-purpose aircraft used for transportation, rescue, topographic reconnaissance, air patrol, and pilot training. This extremely modern helicopter uses a lot of composite materials and is fitted with the latest technologies : a Turbomeca Arrius 2F engine and a new-generation shrouded tail rotor as well as modern avionics. Having been taken into consideration from the design phase, this helicopter's maintenance is simple and economical.

It was the first time China had shared investment and risks with foreign partners in helicopter production. The EC120 helicopter made its maiden flight in 1996 and began production on a small scale in 1997, after which it was certified by the Joint Airworthiness Authority. It won more orders after it received airworthiness certificates in more than 30 countries, including the United States, France, Germany and Italy. Nearly 400 of the helicopters have been ordered since the model took its first successful test flight in 1995.

In 2004, the partners in EC120 helicopter program, who come from China, France and Singapore, respectively, established a new final assembly line in China, and renamed this model HC120. It is one of the most advanced light helicopter models in the world. This successful cooperation opens a new era of Chinese aviation industry for equal cooperation with world famous aviation manufacturers.

China built an assembly line to manufacture five-seat EC120 helicopters in Harbin, Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province before the end of 2004. The assembly line, capable of producing 20 helicopters a year, is the second such line apart from one in France.

The four partners in the EC120 project are the Harbin Aircraft Industry Group Corp, China National Aero-Technical Import and Export Corp (CATIC), France-based Eurocopter and Singapore-based Technologies Aerospace. China Aviation Industry Corporation II, which owns the Harbin company as well as a 50 per cent stake in CATIC.

The EC-120 was jointly developed by three countries, with Singapore in charge of the tail section, and France responsible for its engine. The Harbin Aeroplane Manufacturing Group in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province contributed the body of the helicopter to foreign engineers for final assembly. CATIC/HAMC (China), which has a 24% stake in the program, is responsible for the design and manufacture of fully equipped fuselages, complete with their fuel system. Singapore Aerospace, with its 15% share, is responsible for access doors, the tail boom and the composite structure of the Fenestron tail rotor. With its 61% stake, Eurocopter has engineering leadership, with responsibility for overall design, specifications, ground tests, flight testing, design and production of the drive trains, the avionics suite, electrical systems, overall integration, primary assembly line and certification.




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