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China accelerates building independent emergency air rescue system

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-09-18 13:25

Photo shows the AC313A, a heavy-lift, multipurpose helicopter developed by Aviation Industry Corp of China, conducting its debut flight in East China's Jiangxi province on May 17, 2022. [Photo provided to China Daily]

TIANJIN -- China is accelerating the building of a national emergency air rescue system with characteristics of Chinese modernization by facilitating the progress of homegrown aircraft and various other coordinated moves.

"The situation of natural disasters in China is tough and complex. The building of emergency air rescue is a systematic work with great significance, and it is also of importance in promoting the modernization of the national emergency management system and capabilities," said Guo Zhiwu, a senior official with the Ministry of Emergency Management.

Guo made the remarks at the 6th China Helicopter Exposition held in North China's Tianjin municipality.

He said that China's emergency rescue sector is making a comprehensive transition from mainly combating forest fires to meeting various challenges from natural disasters.

"Moving forward, we are building a system of emergency air rescue equipment that can meet the demands of the country's practical emergency rescue work," Guo added.

According to China's 14th Five-Year-Plan (2021-2025), China's national emergency management system will be improved by strengthening and improving the air rescue system and capabilities.

"The Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) is pioneering the development of Chinese aeronautical equipment for emergency rescue operations. It is our mission to sustain the building of the national emergency air rescue system," said Zhou Guoqiang, spokesperson of the AVIC, China's leading aviation manufacturer.

Zhou said that the state-owned AVIC highlights significant advantages with a coordinated and complete industrial chain, capacities in developing core technologies, as well as the resilience in maintaining progress amid risks and challenges.

At the expo, the AVIC displayed a series of homegrown helicopters and equipment for emergency rescue, especially the AC series civil helicopters such as the 4-tonne-level AC332, 7-tonne-level AC352 and various other major models with latest key progress.

Helicopters are an efficient modern emergency rescue method as they can conduct vertical take-off and landing, hover in midair, move freely in any direction and adapt to complex environments.

They can reach the "last mile" of disaster-hit areas to save people and deliver supplies, and send patients for medical rescue. They can also search and rescue people in marine accidents, and pour water on fires with installed rescue equipment.

"Emergency rescue is characterized by urgency, difficulty and danger. China's complex geographical environment determines that we must have rescue equipment that can meet all rescue demands," said Xu Chaoliang, vice president with AVIC China Helicopter Research and Development Institute.

China must develop and put into use a series of helicopters that can safely carry out rescue operations in all natural disasters across the country, according to Xu, also chief designer of China's 13-tonne-level AC313 large civil helicopter.

The AC313 has a maximum take-off weight of 13.8 tonnes with external sling loads. It can carry up to 28 people, and can load up to five tonnes of water in combating fires.

"The Chinese-developed technologies, such as the small-diameter wide rotor blade, make this large helicopter capable of conducting rescue missions on high plateaus and sea rescues by boarding vessels," Xu said.

China's enhanced emergency air rescue capabilities are facilitating more homegrown aircraft to serve people's well-being.

"We are expected to be the pioneer in using more homegrown helicopters and serving emergency rescue operations," said Gong Quan, vice president with China Flying-Dragon General Aviation Co., Ltd. under the AVIC.

The company is now operating a fleet of 83 general aircraft, including 43 helicopters, especially a series of Chinese-developed civil helicopters.

A female helicopter pilot and flight instructor, Gong has piloted various models of Chinese helicopters on firefighting, flood rescue and other rescue missions. "They can fully meet the needs of various rescue operations in high mountains and valleys," said Gong.

"I am so honored to pilot the Chinese-developed helicopters to save our people from danger," she said.

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