Z-20 choppers continue flood relief work in C.China, show high endurance
Published: Jul 26, 2021 07:59 PM
A Z-20 utility helicopter is on display prior to the 5th China Helicopter Exposition in Tianjin on October 9, 2019. Photo: Xu Luming/GT

A Z-20 utility helicopter is on display prior to the 5th China Helicopter Exposition in Tianjin on October 9, 2019. Photo: Xu Luming/GT

Z-20 helicopters of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) continued their high-intensity flood relief operations in Xinxiang, Central China's Henan Province over the past few days, displaying endurance that reflects the domestically developed chopper's high level of performance, experts said on Monday.

Since the first deployment on Friday afternoon, three Z-20s and 33 related personnel attached to a brigade affiliated with the PLA 83rd Group Army made 70 sorties, delivering more than 75 tons of supplies including drinking water, medicine and food, to 17 flood-stricken villages that are affected by traffic disruptions, helping more than 20,000 people as of Sunday, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Sunday evening.

Rescue efficiency has been greatly increased thanks to the emergency deployment of the Z-20, Xinhua said.

This is the first time that the Z-20 has been dispatched in a flood relief mission. The helicopters also conducted aerial surveys, Xinhua reported, noting that the Z-20s have been conducting exercises and support missions since they were commissioned into the brigade.

The intensive operations of the Z-20s demonstrated the endurance and good performance of the domestically developed helicopter, a Chinese military expert told the Global Times on Monday, requesting anonymity.

They consecutively operated for more than 48 hours on at least three days. On average, each chopper made about 12 sorties a day, a heavy work load for the flight and maintenance crews that also poses challenges to the helicopters, including their engines and rotors, in a hot, humid and complex environment, the expert said.

In a mission, a Z-20 hovered above a flooded village at a low altitude and dropped supplies, a video taken by local residents and circulated on Chinese social media showed.

Its hovering looked very stable even as it dropped goods, which also reflects the chopper's good flight performance, observers said.

At the 2019 China Helicopter Development Forum held in North China's Tianjin Municipality, Wang Xibao, chief engineer at AVIC Harbin Aircraft Industry Group, told the Global Times that the craft uses many of the world's most advanced technologies, including active vibration controls, fly-by-wire, low-noise rotor designs and high performance aerodynamic designs for the rotor.

As China's first domestically developed medium-sized utility tactical helicopter, the Z-20 potentially has wide applications just like the US' Black Hawk helicopters, Wang Ya'nan, chief editor of Beijing-based Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times.

These missions could include transport, reconnaissance, assault, search and rescue, medical support, special operations and anti-submarine warfare, observers said.