Thursday, December 24, 2009

First EC175 / Z15 Helicopter Took Maiden Flight in France

The first EC175-Z15 helicopter jointly built by Harbin Aviation Industry Co. (HAIG) and Eurocopter, two airplane manufacturers separately based in China and France, taken its maiden flight in Marseilles, southeast France.The EC175-Z15 can be recognized as the fruit of a 50-50 project between Eurocopter and HAIG, which is under the aegis of the Chinese aviation conglomerate Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).

HAIG has received orders for 120 EC175-Z15 helicopters from 15 companies in North America, Asia, Europe, and China, and the demand for EC175-Z15 helicopters is expected to amount to 400 in the coming two decades, according to AVIC.These significant orders signify that the EC175-Z15 perfectly complements the current Eurocopter and AVICOPTER product range and meets the market needs.

HAIG's long-term strategy shows that it is scheduled to deliver three fuselages and large number of components of EC175-Z15 for the certification program in 2010 and get the airworthiness certificate from European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in 2011.


The Eurocopter EC 175 is a 7-ton class multi-mission helicopter intended for the civil market being developed by Eurocopter in conjunction with China's Harbin Aviation Industry Group, an AVIC II corporation subsidiary. The program was officially launched on December 5, 2005 during a visit of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to France. Aircraft certification in both countries, France and China, as well as series production start are due in 2011. The EC175 helicopter is intended mainly for offshore oil and gas missions as well as search and rescue (SAR), homeland security, emergency medical service (EMS), and passengers air transport operations.

The EC 175 program will be executed by a 50/50 joint venture with two separated assembly lines in France and China. Eurocopter and AVIC II will invest about 300 million Euro each, totaling 600 million Euro. The commercial forecast for the aircraft type was numbered at 800 helicopters over a 20-year period. Overall, this program should be worth about 10 billion Euro. According to Eurocopter, the EC 175 is meant to fill the gap between 5-ton Dauphin and 10-ton Super Puma/Cougar rotary-wing aircraft. As of late February 2008 Eurocopter had logged 111 commitments from customers around the world.

The new medium-twin class helicopter will feature latest avionics and cockpit equipment highlighting four 6x8-in LCD displays, cabin and cockpit air conditioned, emergency floatation devices, a five-blade Spheriflex main rotor, a four-axis digital Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS), and high-energy crash absorbing airframe. It will be powered by two Pratt & Whitney PT6C-67E engines with new generation FADEC. The aircraft will have a very low vibration level minimizing internal and external noise, falling far below the latest ICAO standards. Operated by a crew of one or two-pilots it will be able to carry as many as 16 passengers at speeds of 280 km/h. Its action radius will stay above 200 nautical miles (370 km).

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