Find a Security Clearance Job!


Z-11 light military transport helicopter

The Z-11 is the Chinese version of the French AS350B Ecureuil [Squirrel] light helicopter. The Z-11, a light utility helicopter served for civil and military applications, was designed and developed in China. It is the first type of helicopter with the intellectual property rights independently owned by China, but also the first type of helicopter certified to full-cycle airworthiness management.

The Z-11 program was approved in 1989 and the development began in 1992. The first flight of the Z-11 took place in December 1994, with production by the Changhe Aircraft Industry Corporation (AVIC II). The Z-11 light utility helicopter appears to be based on the Eurocopter AS 350B Ecureuil, although Changhe claims that China owns independent intellectual property rights for the Z-11. Changhe also has produced the Z-8, a version of the Aerospatiale Super Frelon multi-role transport helicopter. Seventeen Z-8s were reportedly manufactured between 1994 and 1997, and there have been indications that production could be restarted.

The Z-11 is two-ton class six-seater lightweight helicopter. The helicopter is designed with the conventional main rotor system as well as tail rotor. The three-blade main rotor is mounted above center of fuselage. A single turboshaft engine is mounted inside the body with air intakes on top of the cabin and a blackhole exhaust.

The Z-11 is designed for training, scout, liaison and rescue, as well as various civil missions. Although descrined by the manufacturer as multi-mission, the future of the helicopter is constrained by its limited take-off weight, modest armament, low suvivability, and outdated technology. Consequently, the PLA only ordered a few (no more than 20) Z-11s for pilot training.

Z-11 had successfully accomplished the flight test for civil airworthiness on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau at the end of 2002. Many flight tests are internationally acknowledged as Class I risky flight programs. These items have filled the gap of flight test area of indigenous helicopter in eight aspects, such as the in-flight starting testing and autorotation testing etc. It had realized the significant breakthrough in the flight history of the indigenous helicopter.

Z-11 has established many new national records in helicopter's flight history of China, and it maintains the highest availability rate during the recent years. By the end of December 2005, the safe flight for the in-service Z-11 fleet has accumulated up to over 40,000 hours and 230,000 take-off and landings, and the availability rate exceeds 95%. Because of the perfect safety, no safety accident had ever occurred.

In January 2000, Z-11 created many records in the flight history of national helicopter during the flight tests in the high-altitude and extreme cold area. Flight endurance in air is more than 5 hours, and flight endurance lasts two hours under -38?; ferrying flight time in a day is 8 hours and 33 minutes, and the temperature difference ranges between 5? and -38?, and there is no failure detected during its 1332-kilometer flight, what's more, after the continuous two days' ferry flight for 2470 kilometers, and the helicopter is still in the perfect condition in the wake of crossing over 7 provinces,. Each performance index has reached the advanced level of the international counterpart's helicopter. Z-11 is the only "credit-winning" helicopter type among these helicopters developed by indigenous industries of China with the shortest development duration and best in-service performance.

The company has been varying and modifying Z-11 to meet the needs of national defense construction and domestic civil market. So far the company has various models available for Z11, such as Z11 Police Helicopter, Z11 Armed Helicopter, Z11 MB1 Helicopter, Z11 Aerial Relay & Photographing Helicopter, and Z11 Power line Inspection etc.

The helicopter requires one pilot and one co-pilot, and the rear cabin can be configured with 4 passenger seats. The aircraft is designed with the main rotor system along with tail rotor, and 70% of the fuselage structures are made of the composite material. The helicopter has 3 composite main rotor blades and 2 tail rotor blades. The landing gear is of fixed skid type. The take-off power is 510 kilowatt, with one WZ8D turbo-shaft engine installed, and the largest continuous power is 450 kilowatt, as well as the cruise power is 350 kilowatt.

Main rotor diameter10.690m
Tail rotor diameter1.860m
Whole length13.012m
Fuselage length11.240m
Weight and Load:
Empty weight1253kg
Max take-off weight2200kg
Normal take-off weight2000kg
Performance(Normal takeoff weight, flight altitude 1000m, ISA)
Max cruising speed238km/h
Economic cruising speed218km/h
Max inclined climbing rate9.0m/s
Hovering IGE (IGE altitude 1.5m, ISA)3700m
Hovering OGE (ISA)2930m
Service ceiling5240m


Designed as a military improvement over the AC-311, Chinas Avicopter Z-11B made its first successful flight in September 2015. In November of 2010, Chinese state-owned manufacturer Avicopter unveiled the AC-311, a single-engine helicopter capable of carrying up to six people.

On 28 September 2015, the company conducted the first test-flight of its military version, the Z-11WB. Maintaining the high visibility of the AC-311, the new helicopter has modifications which allow it to "carry out ground support, attack, battlefield reconnaissance, command, counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics, counter-smuggling, and other tasks," according to Chinese reports. The Z-11WB was tested in Jingdezhen, in northeastern Jiangxi province.

Early images of the aircraft also suggest that the Z-11B will feature an electro-optical pod. If the new chopper is anything like the Z-11, a predecessor of the AC-311, then it will be powered by the WZ8D turboshaft engine. Chinese reports indicate that the helicopter will be ready for operations sometime in 2016. While the Army Aviation Corps of the Peoples Liberation Army could be one major customer, its unclear whether other parties have expressed interest. In 2011, Argentina signed a deal with Avicopter to construct the Z-11, and there is no word on whether Buenos Aires will purchase the new aircraft.

WZ-11 [Z-11W]

Richard Fisher notes that "At the 2002 Zhuhai show Changhe revealed that it was developing an armed version of the Z-11, called the WZ-11 Combat Songshu. A twin-engine Z-11 is being developed with the help of Rolls Royce, that will be comparable to the AS-555 FENNEC. This may yet be the real basis for the WZ-11 as it would have more power. The WZ-11 employs a sight mounted on top the fuselage and has weapons pylons for either four guided anti-armor missiles or four unguided rocket pods. In late 2003 the PLA was reported to have built six of these WZ-11 Combat Songshu versions. The WZ-11 may turn out to be an important weapon in the PLA's ongoing preparations for a war over Taiwan. Cheap and relatively simple to produce, a large number of WZ-11s could inflict significant damage and provide much needed scout functions and initial air cover for invading PLA troops. This may prove to be a more important attack helicopter for the PLA than the indigenous WZ-10."

Join the mailing list

Unconventional Threat podcast - Threats Foreign and Domestic: 'In Episode One of Unconventional Threat, we identify and examine a range of threats, both foreign and domestic, that are endangering the integrity of our democracy'

Page last modified: 08-10-2015 20:08:07 ZULU