Hiller UH-12 Ultra-Light Civil Helicopter
Hiller (China) Aircraft Manufacturing Company commenced construction of a new light helicopter production facility at Zhangjiakou City, northwest of Beijing with initial earthworks commencing 18 May 2009. Hiller (China) Aircraft Manufacturing Co and the Shanxi Xinhaisheng Trade Co would begin producing civilian helicopters by the end of 2009. The US$80 million plant was expected to come on line by late 2009, producing Hiller UH-12 models for the Chinese domestic market. The project is designed to manufacture 200 helicopters yearly with an annual output value of 2.6 billion yuan, and realized profits and taxes of 1 billion yuan. China needs about 3,000 helicopters over the next 20 years but as of 2010 had only about 100 such aircraft for civilian use.
Hiller (China) Aircraft Manufacturing Company was founded in 2007 with a total investment of US $80 million, 60% of which was financed by the Chinese. The company is a joint venture between Hiller Aircraft Corporation, Zhangjiakou Qahar General Aviation Company, and the Shanxi Xinhaisheng Trade Company. Zhangjiakou Qahar General Aviation is a business arm of the Chinese Hebei Province local government. It is already carrying out low rate production of UH-12 parts and sub assemblies. Shanxi Xinhaisheng is a shipping and bulk commodities transport company and acquired a 29.4 per cent shareholding in the light utility helicopter manufacturer in December 2008.The joint venture will introduce the UH-12 series helicopter manufacturing project from the US-based Hiller.
Considered the most versatile helicopter in production, the UH-12E provides unparalleled capability including external load work, aerial observation and primary through turbine flight training - all using the same basic airframe. All of this can be done without the need for pilots to meet special FAA training and experience requirements necessary with some other aircraft. Known as flying pick-up trucks, Hiller helicopters are the proven choice for agriculture, forestry and construction. The Hiller UH-12E boasts the highest useful load of any helicopter in its class; 300 pounds more than its closest competitor. Its simple construction adds to its versatility. Hiller is the only light helicopter that can be serviced and maintained without extensive preparation work or removing cowlings. Hiller is also the only manufacturer that publishes full maintenance manuals so components do not have to go back to the factory for overhaul.
By mid-2011 not much more had been heard from this project, which is largely dependent on the opening of Chinese airspace to general aviation, including helicopters. In November 2010 officials decided to allow general-aviation aircraft to fly below 4,000 meters, or about 13,000 feet. The first step is an experiment allowing planes to fly below 1,000 meters, or 3,300 feet, which will be tried out in 2011 and 2012 in Guangdong and Heilongjiang provinces.
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