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Helicopter Industry Development

The road of the Chinese helicopter development was tortuous and there were some failures and setbacks. But a considerable foundation for further development has been laid by the hard work of the staff and workers in the aviation industry, and one helicopter design and research institute and two helicopter factories have been established. In addition there are also helicopter research organs in the China Aerodynamics Research and Development Center, the Flight Research Institute and NAI. A comparable complete helicopter system including R&D, design, production, flight test and education has been formed. The Chinese helicopter industry has had certain abilities in design and production of helicopters, their engines and transmission systems. It has become an important part of the Chinese aviation industry.

After more than 30 years of construction, by the mid-1980s China's country's helicopter enterprise possessed a definite scale: two manufacturing plants and one research and design institute. In addition, in the Low-Speed Aerodynamics Research and Development Center there was a helicopter aerodynamics research team; in the Test Flight Research Center there was a helicopter test flight team; and in the Nanjing Aeronautical Engineering College there is a helicopter teaching and research section. It may be said that China's helicopter enterprise, in the scientific, designing, manufacturing, and educational aspects, had been formed into a fairly complete system. However, in technology, for various reasons, a lot of time had been wasted and, in comparison with the world's advanced level, there was a definite gap.

Since the 1990s the Chinese helicopter industry, centered mainly around Harbin Aircraft Industry Co. and Changhe Aircraft Industry Co. has begun to spend larger sums on research and development in order to meet China's future demand with locally manufactured helicopters. In 2000 the Chinese government loosened regulations to allow local private firms and foreign companies to cooperate in designing and making civil helicopters. China's government is spending heavily on bringing international expertise into the country's aeronautics field. Both the Harbin and Changhe companies, each of them state owned, have been doing business with European and U.S. helicopter makers. The EC 120 lightweight helicopter, for example -- a collaborative venture by French firm Eurocopter, Harbin Aircraft Industry and Singapore Aerospace Co. -- has been under development since the mid-1990s. Changhe Aircraft Industry, meanwhile, has been building a version of the Sikorsky S-92 medium transport helicopter in collaboration with French partners. Chinese commercial helicopters currently being constructed with Western parts and expertise are expected to take to the skies between 2005 and 2007.

In 1999 China organized its 440,000 aircraft sector employees into two large corporate conglomerates, placing most military and large aircraft concerns in Aviation Industries of China One (AVIC-I) and putting attack aircraft, trainers and helicopters in AVIC-II, with the goal of spurring greater domestic competition. The AVIC 1 Commercial Aircraft Corporation was an early attempt to combine distributed government and private factories and institutes toward the goal of making an airliner, the ARJ-21. Then in November 2008 there was a re-merging of AVIC 1 and 2, with a reported 420,000 employees and 100 companies. The new AVIC has refocused on aviation activities, shedding off non-core businesses and reorganising in sector-specific divisions.

The PLA is investing heavily in the domestic helicopter sector, which is very interested in meeting what is predicted to be a sharply growing domestic demand. The PLA remains dependent on foreign helicopter purchases and on foreign helicopter technology to drive new programs. Design and manufacturing of helicopters fell under the Aviation Industries of China-II (AVIC-II) corporation. Design of all PRC helicopters is led by the Chinese Helicopter Research and Development Institute (CHRDI) in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province. The Chang He Aircraft Industries Group (CHAIG), one of the PRC's two helicopter manufacturers, is also located in the same city. The other helicopter manufacturer [which also builds light transports], the Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Corp. (HAMC), is located to the north in Heilongjiang Province.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 02:38:10 ZULU