AC352 / Z-15 / EC175
Eurocopter and Avicopter are jointly developing the six-ton EC175 helicopter, also called Z15 in China. The Zhi-15 (Z-15) is a 6,000 kg-class medium utility helicopter jointly developed by Harbin Aviation Industry and Eurocopter. The helicopter aims to fulfil the growing demand for this class of helicopter in both civil and military markets in the next decade. Previously known as the Eurocopter EC175 and the Avicopter Z-15, the 7-ton class medium utility helicopter was jointly developed by Airbus Helicopters (formerly Eurocopter Group) and the Harbin Aircraft Industry Group of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).
The new medium-heavy twin-engine helicopter is China's first, and is one of the world's most advanced 7-ton class medium utility helicopters currently. The engine was built in China, along with some other major components. The Avicopter AC352 is built for civilian and para-public applications, with search and rescue missions and the oil and gas industry seen as major markets.
Harbin and Eurocopter signed a joint development and production agreement worth 6 billion Euros in December 2005. Each party shoulders 50 % of the total investment and workload. Harbin Aircraft Industry has the independent intellectual property rights. The cooperation contract was signed on 5th December 2005 with the completion of the Preliminary Design Review in 2006 followed by the Critical Design Review in 2007. The two companies equally share design and production responsibilities. There will be two assembly lines, one in Harbin, and the other in Marignane, France.
The helicopter was expected to make its first flight in 2009 and become certified in 2012. Avicopter delivered the first airframe structure for the EC175 prototype at the end of last year. The helicopter was expected to launch its maiden flight by the end of 2009. In November 2008 Harbin Aviation Industry Co. (HAIG) successfully delivered the first EC175 airframe structure to Eurocopter at its factory in Harbin/China in the presence of representatives from both companies. This was the 3rd key milestone for the development of this multi-role medium-twin class 16-passenger helicopter.
The new Avicopter AC352 Chinese civil helicopter, powered with WZ16 engine, made its maiden flight on 20 December 2016, marking a new development in the nation's helicopter industry, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) said. The AC352 civil helicopter is a multi-purpose twin-engine helicopter with a 7.5-tonne maximum take-off weight, and is capable of carrying up to 16 passengers. The WZ16 met all the performance targets set for this maiden flight. Known in the west as the Ardiden 3C, the engine has been jointly developed by Safran Helicopter Engines, CAPI and Dongan, parts of the new Aero Engine Corporation of China (AECC) consortium, in a partnership for both development and production.
The WZ16 is a new-generation turboshaft in the 1,500 to 2,000 shp power class. It features a remarkably compact modular architecture, a best in class power to weight ratio with a low cost-of-ownership. Compared to the competition, it offers a 10 % lower fuel consumption. "Such milestone achieved is the result of closer cooperation between both sides. Building on this, in the future, we will continue our cooperation toward the goal of engine certification at an early date" said Mr Qin Yuchun, President of AECC Dongan."
Commented Safran Helicopter Engines EVP Programs, Cyrille Poetsch, "this flight both secures the AC352 development schedule and marks a major milestone in our partnership with China's aerospace industry. Through this program Safran demonstrates its ability to successfully conduct new-generation engine design as part of an international partnership. This is also a significant step for Avicopter. Since its establishment in 1956, it has grown to become a major rotorcraft manufacturer. We are proud to be aboard their new-generation AC352 and wish them a happy 60th anniversary".
WZ16 will be the first helicopter engine to be certified in parallel, both in China by CAAC (Civil Aviation Administration of China) and in Europe under Ardiden 3C designation, by EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) under the Ardiden 3C designation. The EASA certification for the Ardiden 3C was expected by end of 2017, and the CAAC certification for the WZ16 in 2018.
As China's first 7-metric-ton class helicopter, AC352 was jointly developed by Avicopter subsidiary AVIC Harbin Aircraft Industry and Airbus Helicopters. The 50-50 "peer cooperation" started in 2006, says Lu Weijian, chief designer of the AC352. The twin-engine helicopter capable of carrying 16 passengers with a 7.5-tonne maximum take-off weight, the AC 352 has a maximum range of 1,000 kilometers.
Its design focused on safety, economic efficiency and pilot-friendliness. The AC352 is targeted at markets at home and abroad with multiple capabilities including offshore transport and medical or disaster rescue. "China has become a strong player in the global helicopter industry. Only with superior resources can you gain the respect of global industry leaders and their cooperation," says Yang Guangzhao, project manager of the AC352 at AVIC Harbin Aircraft Industry.
"Avicopter and Airbus Helicopter are together playing to our advantages in technologies and markets. Moreover, we are able to reduce business and technology risks in introducing a new model," says Yang.
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