China’s large civilian AC313A helicopter succeeds in its first flight

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India. He holds an M.B.A in International Business. Books: Author: Foxtrot to Arihant: The Story of Indian Navy's Submarine Arm; Co Author : Warring Navies - India and Pakistan. *views are Personal

China’s 13-ton class large civilian utility AC313A helicopter, on Tuesday, made its first flight at Ryomo Airport in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province in eastern China. The helicopter can meet the requirements for use in complex terrain and climatic environments such as plateaus, high temperatures, and cold weather.

During the first flight, the helicopter performed a series of difficult air manoeuvres and demonstrated its flight characteristics. The developers also conducted preliminary checks of the helicopter’s engines, main rotor, control system and avionics system during the flight.

 AC313A large multipurpose civilian helicopter is built by China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC). After the first flight, the development of the AC313A heavy-lift helicopter was transferred from the pilot production stage to the test flight stage. 

AC313A, an upgraded version of Avicopter AC313 helicopter or Changhe Z-8F-100, is equipped with new type engines (as per open sources, domestic Turboshaft-10 engine) and a transmission system with increased power and operational durability. At the same time, avionics and flight control systems were upgraded, AVIC said in a statement. AC313 helicopter is a 1960’s design with composite and titanium in the rotor areas. The AC313 series civilian helicopter is an imitation model of the French Super Hornet helicopter.

This new helicopter model is also equipped with a Health and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS) and rotor de-icing and de-icing to improve its performance and safety to allow it to fly in icing conditions.

The AC313A, which has a maximum external sling weight of 13.8 tons, can accommodate up to 28 people. The helicopter can also be loaded with approximately five tons of water for firefighting missions.

Capable of visual and instrumental flight, the AC313A can operate in various challenging terrain and weather conditions, including high altitude areas and high or low temperatures.

The customized design supports emergency medical care, emergency command, and comprehensive law enforcement missions. It can also carry out salvage missions after the addition of an emergency levitation system. 

According to the chief engineer of the AC313A project, the independently developed large civil helicopter AC313A is highly reliable, especially in difficult plateau conditions, as well as multi-functional in use.

“The AC313A helicopter can be used in typical plateau conditions at an altitude of 4500 meters. It is capable of carrying 1.3 tons of cargo and flying up to 600 kilometres. Overall, the AC313A is more spacious, more suitable for plateau flying and has a longer range. Its reliability, safety and comfort have been further improved,” said Tao Chung, AC313A Chief Engineer, China Aviation Industry Corporation.

In addition to the high adaptability, the payload capacity of this aircraft has also been significantly increased by using an all-new wide fuselage, with the effective cabin volume almost doubled and the payload capacity increased by almost a quarter compared to the AC313 medium-haul helicopter. 

“Previously, the AC313 helicopter had a maximum passenger capacity of 18, but now the AC313A can carry up to 28 passengers. In addition, it is capable of lifting up to 4 tons of cargo, and its maximum external lifting weight can reach 5 tons,” said Tao.

With a variety of onboard equipment, the helicopter can be used for various purposes, such as firefighting, emergency rescue, and transportation of personnel and materials, meeting the needs of all-weather multipurpose operations in any part of the country.

“We have installed an electric rescue winch and an aerial broadcasting system for search and rescue operations. We also equipped it with fire buckets, water tanks and water cannons to carry out firefighting tasks in forests and cities. In addition, we have installed rescue stretchers and medical equipment, allowing him to perform tasks such as emergency medical evacuation,” Tao said.

 It is expected that an airworthiness certificate will be obtained and handed over to users during the 14th Five-Year Regulation (2021-25). 

Other helicopters with similar weight capacity around the world include British – Italian AgustaWestland AW101, American Sikorsky S-92, and Russian Mil Mi-38. These helicopters have a weight carrying capacity of more than 14 tons. 


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