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AVIC developing ultrafast tilt-rotor aircraft

By Zhao Lei in Harbin | China Daily | Updated: 2016-12-21 07:13

Chinese helicopter designers are focusing on the development of an ultrafast tilt-rotor aircraft capable of flying 500 kilometers per hour, the nation's top helicopter researcher said.

Wu Ximing, chief helicopter designer at State-owned aircraft giant Aviation Industry Corp of China, told China Daily on Monday that researchers at the company's Helicopter Research and Development Institute are developing the Blue Whale tilt-rotor aircraft, China's equivalent of the United States' Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey.

"We will design two variants of the Blue Whale - a medium-duty type and a heavy-duty one. The medium-duty model will have a maximum takeoff weight of 20 metric tons, and the heavy-duty model 40 tons. They can fly as fast as 500 km/h," Wu said.

Modern helicopters usually have a maximum speed ranging from 250 to 300 km/h.

The aircraft will be able to conduct vertical takeoff and landing in tough terrain like a conventional helicopter, and will have a longer range and higher cruising speed that can compare to turboprop jets, Wu said, adding it can also carry heavier payloads than helicopters.

With four rotors, the Blue Whale will have better reliability, maneuverability and safety than its US counterpart, the V-22 Osprey, he added.

Wu expects the tilt-rotor to conduct a wide variety of tasks, such as disaster relief, supply airdrop and other emergency response operations.

AVIC sees the importance of developing the ultrafast tilt-rotor aircraft, he said, adding, however, that it will be a long time before they are ready for mass production due to the technological complexity.

An earlier report by China Aviation News, a newspaper owned by AVIC, quoted engineers at the Helicopter Research and Development Institute as saying that the Blue Whale will have a flight range of 3,100 km and meet demands of rapid troop deployment of the Chinese army and navy.

The US is flight testing the Sikorsky S-97 Raider high-speed armed helicopter. Sikorsky Aircraft, the manufacturer, said it has a cruising speed of 407 km/h, more than 100 km/h faster than the US' Boeing AH-64 Apache that is widely considered the best combat helicopter in the world.

Russia is also researching designs for a stealth combat helicopter with ultrafast speed, Russian media has reported.

AVIC developing ultrafast tilt-rotor aircraft

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