China's latest large helicopter AC313A makes maiden flight
Published: May 17, 2022 07:42 PM
China's latest large helicopter, the AC313A, successfully conducted its first flight on May 17, 2022 in Jingdezhen, East China's Jiangxi Province. Photo: Courtesy of AVIC

China's latest large helicopter, the AC313A, successfully conducted its first flight on May 17, 2022 in Jingdezhen, East China's Jiangxi Province. Photo: Courtesy of AVIC

China's latest, domestically developed multipurpose large helicopter, the AC313A, made its maiden flight on Tuesday, taking a tremendous step toward the expansion of China's arsenal of aviation equipment for emergency rescue.

Taking off at 8:55 am and landing at 9:17 am at the Lümeng Airport in Jingdezhen, East China's Jiangxi Province, the first flight of the AC313A went smoothly, the Global Times learned from the state-owned Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC), the manufacturer of the aircraft.

The AC313A will make further test flights, and it is expected to receive an airworthiness certificate during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25) before being delivered to users, AVIC said.

As a 13 ton-class multipurpose large helicopter developed based on the AC313 for civilian purposes, the AC313A is equipped with a new type of engine with a greater drive power, longer lifespan and better reliability. It has also received upgrades in mechatronics, avionics, flight control and steering systems, and it now also has a health and usage monitoring system, as well as an anti-icing device for rotor blades.

The redesigned widebody fuselage enables the helicopter to have a larger internal space.

The AC313A switched to use the world's most powerful turboshaft engines, as well as new reducers, a tilted tail rotor, improved rotor and control systems, and a widebody structure, giving a comprehensive boost to the chopper's performance, said Liu Wenqi, the chief designer of the helicopter.

To fully ensure the safety of the first flight, the AC313A had completed a 50-hour iron bird endurance test, Liu said. An iron bird is a ground-based device to test an aircraft's functions.

The avionics system of the AC313A received the first domestically developed flight management system, which enhanced the aircraft's area navigation system, improved system safety and significantly lowered the workload for the flight crew, said Cao Xi, leader of the system's development.

With a maximum takeoff weight of 13.8 tons with external loads and capable of carrying 28 passengers, the AC313A is designed to reduce the weaknesses in China's arsenal of emergency rescue. By having equipment like search lights, fire buckets, electric winches and loudspeakers, the helicopter excels at missions like fighting fires and search and rescue.

Thanks to the upgrades, the AC313A performs in an outstanding way at high altitudes, making it an effective choice in emergency rescue and supply transport in plateau regions like Southwest China's Xizang (Tibet) Autonomous Region.

It can also be customized for missions like emergency medical assistance, emergency control and command, law enforcement and maritime rescue, so it can satisfy different types of needs throughout China's varied terrains and weather conditions, AVIC said.

China has been one of the world's worst-hit countries by natural disasters. Based on experience, traditional rescue methods are restricted by time and space, and that is why aviation rescue by helicopter is needed, as it is fast, covers a large area, and is highly mobile and efficient, analysts said.