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New versatile helicopter completes plateau tests

By ZHAO LEI | China Daily | Updated: 2023-11-20 10:16

The AC313A heavy-lift helicopter prepares to undergo its first round of test flights in plateau environments. CHINA DAILY

The AC313A, a heavy-lift, multipurpose helicopter developed by Aviation Industry Corp of China, recently underwent its first round of test flights in plateau environments, according to a project manager.

Xie Xiaowen, deputy general manager of the helicopter's manufacturer, AVIC Changhe Aircraft Industry in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province, said on Friday that earlier this month, an AC313A prototype completed two months of plateau test flights before returning to the Jingdezhen Lyumeng Airport, which belongs to the company.

"The prototype flew to Huangguoshu Airport (in Anshun, Guizhou province) on Sept 10," he said. "It conducted some test flights from Huangguoshu, which is 1,600 meters above sea level, and then flew to Ninglang Luguhu Airport (in Lijiang, Yunnan province), which has an altitude of 3,300 meters. Its last stop was Daocheng Yading Airport (in Garze Tibetan autonomous prefecture, Sichuan province), which is about 4,400 meters above sea level."

During the tests, pilots flew the helicopter to a maximum height of 6,000 meters and performed a host of maneuvers, Xie said.

The tests enabled designers to examine the helicopter's performance in plateau environments and the capabilities of its engine, auxiliary propulsion devices and flight-control system, the executive said.

"The data and experience gained can be used in technical preparations for the model's airworthiness certification process," he said.

Designed by the China Helicopter Research and Development Institute, the AC313A is 19.3 meters long, 4.4 meters wide and has a maximum takeoff weight of 13.8 metric tons.

The two-pilot aircraft can transport 28 passengers. It is capable of fulfilling a wide variety of tasks such as personnel and cargo transport, fire extinguishing, disaster relief, emergency rescue, medical aid and maritime patrol, according to Liu Wenqi, the AC313A's chief designer.

The helicopter conducted its debut flight in Jingdezhen in May last year.

Following the plateau tests, the prototype will perform flights in regions with extremely low temperatures, Xie said, noting that his team plans to complete all airworthiness certification work by the end of 2025 before delivering the helicopters to buyers.

"The helicopter will help resolve the shortage of transportation vehicles needed for emergency search and rescue missions, and improve personnel and cargo movement in plateau regions such as the Xizang autonomous region," the manager said.

Designers have said that compared with its predecessor, the AC313, the AC313A features new engines, rotors and transmission gears, as well as improved avionics, flight control and hydraulic systems. Moreover, its interior space is larger than the AC313's.

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