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Heavy helicopter industry to fly after joint venture

(China Daily)

09:46, November 08, 2011

TIANJIN - Major helicopter producer is in talks with its Russian counterpart to jointly develop a 33-ton heavy-lift helicopter, a senior manager said.

"China can produce helicopters with a take-off weight from 1 ton to 13 tons, but only the United States and Russia can produce choppers with lift-off weight of more than 20 tons," said Xia Qunlin, deputy general manager of Avicopter, a joint venture between Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC) and the Tianjin municipal government.

"If approved by the government, the 33-ton heavy helicopter is expected to fill a gap in China... and play important roles in rescue missions and fighting forest fires," he said.

Avicopter Co Limited and Russian Helicopters are now discussing its feasibility, which includes sizing up the model's market and determining both sides' investment shares and division of work, he said.

If approved by the government, this heavy-lift helicopter will be developed and put into service in five to seven years, he said, adding it will be produced at Avicopter's Tianjin production base.

The country realized its need for heavy-lift helicopters in 2008, when a devastating earthquake in Sichuan province killed more than 69,000 people.

A rented Russian Mi-26 heavy chopper demonstrated its importance in rescue work by lifting a 13.2-ton bulldozer and other large pieces of machinery into areas that became isolated after roads linking them to the outside were destroyed.


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