Avicopter / China Aviation Industrial Helicopter Co., Ltd.
Avicopter leads the helicopter division under China Aviation Industry Corp (AVIC), the country's leading aviation manufacturer. Avicopter Corporation Limited is a joint venture between AVIC and the Tianjin municipal government. The company, with a registered capital of 8 billion yuan, will be 69 percent controlled by AVIC and 31 percent owned by the Tianjin government. AVIC and the Tianjin government will each invest an extra 4 billion yuan into the new company.
With the foundation of Avicopter, AVIC has formally integrated the operations of different Chinese helicopter manufacturers: Hafei in Harbin and Changhe in Jingdezhen. These are now subsidiaries of a bigger group and their respective product lines are being rationalised and integrated. Avicopter has chosen Tianjin, the northern port city, for the headquarters of its helicopter business and a massive industrial park that will host domestic and co-operative programs is under construction. Tianjin is building an aviation industry chain with aircraft manufacturing being the core sector. Airbus built an A320 aircraft final assembly line in the city.
China Aviation Industrial Helicopter Co., Ltd. was set up in February 2009. The new company is focused on medium and heavy helicopters, filling a void in the domestic market. Sales are forecast to reach 30 billion to 40 billion yuan within 10 years. Its main business scope covers research & development, manufacturing, sales, maintenance and service of helicopters and other aircraft or components and parts of aircraft. The corporation also deals in wind power equipment and other non-aviation mechanical and electrical products. China Aviation Industrial Helicopter Co., Ltd. co-funded by Tianjin Port Free Trade Zone and China Aviation Industry Corporation was established in the Airport Processing Zone on 26 February 2009. This is another key cooperative result following Airbus A320 series aircraft project between both parties, symbolizing the all-round rolling out of the helicopter R&D and manufacturing base.
Headquartered in Binhai New Area, China Aviation Industrial Helicopter Co., Ltd. has a multiple of member enterprises and specialized research institutes. With a registered capital of 8 billion yuan and total assets of nearly 20 billion yuan, it is mainly engaged in the R&D, production, sales, maintenance and service of helicopter and other aircraft and aviation components and has the capacity of developing and producing multi-type of helicopters in batches. By taking the opportunity of industrial integration and as a core part of China Aviation Industry Corporation, China Aviation Industrial Helicopter Co., Ltd. is committed to building the R&D base, product assembly base and customer service base in Binhai New Area and forming a helicopter industrial base with Tianjin as the core, Jingdezhen, Harbin and Baoding as the support.
Avicopter has adopted a systematic scheme for designating its helicopters. In each designation, the AC stands for Avicopter and the first digit, always a 3, indicates the traditional Chinese idea of one thing leading to two, two things to three, and three to everything, symbolizing the company's vigorous development. The middle digit represents the technology level of the helicopter and the last represents the number of engines. For piston engine types, that number is 0. The military will probably keep the old helicopter Z numbers, however.
Avicopter is studying a 10-ton helicopter and sees a possible opportunity to build another, smaller aircraft, as it worked to become one of a small group of manufacturers with a full range of rotorcraft. A third rotorcraft under consideration, which would be built with Russian Helicopters, would have a gross weight of 30 tons, says Avicopter, the rotary-wing specialist subsidiary of Chinese aeronautics conglomerate Avic. Among the team of focused Chinese aircraft, engine and systems makers set up during the past two years, Avicopter seems to be the one moving fastest and with the greatest confidence on to the world stage as an original equipment manufacturer.
The company was building what it calls a full spectrum of helicopter types, with sizes that are spaced widely enough not to compete with each other but closely enough to leave minimal unaddressed market gaps. In the civil field, its largest helicopter is the AC313, a development of the French Super Frelon in the 13-ton maximum-takeoff-weight class. While using the Super Frelon airframe as a base, Avicopter developed the AC313 derivative on its own, installing Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6B-67A engines. The next is the 7-ton AC352. It has a partnership with Eurocopter to build the AC352 (formerly Z-15), which the European manufacturer calls the EC175. There is also a gap to fill between the AC352 and the AC312, adding that a new helicopter in that range, presumably of about 5.5 tons, was not yet under study as of 2010. There may be some technical connection between the AC311 and Eurocopter AS350B, but Avicopter is developing the piston-engine AC310 on its own. In addition to the AC311, Avicopter is also designing a 1t helicopter, the AC310.
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