First Flight For China's First Light Helicopter

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The AC311 light civilian helicopter, the first of its kind to be developed and manufactured in China, flew for the first time last week, Xinhua has reported. The aircraft is being developed by Avicopter, which is a part of the China Aviation Industry Corp., or AVIC. Avicopter said the rotors are composite, and can be powered by a Honeywell LTS101-700D-2 engine or a Chinese turbine engine, the WZ-8D. The avionics are "highly integrated," the company said. Avicopter said it has two customers so far for the helicopter, but expects to sell up to 500 copies over the next 10 years. The helicopter is on track to be certified in China in 2012.

Earlier this year, the company also flew a large helicopter for the first time, the AC313, which can hold up to 27 passengers and two crew. Also, Avicopter reportedly is working on a joint program with a Russian company to produce a large helicopter that would weight up to 35 tons.