Posts Tagged china

China flies new ‘Z-20’ military helicopter

I spy: An enlarged portion of the original Z-20 image posted on

China has flown a new medium-lift utility helicopter, unofficially desgnated the Z-20, with Western analysts calling it a Black Hawk knockoff and Chinese commentators heralding it as another step in China’s march to military superiority.

The aircraft came to light when an image was posted on the Chinese military forum on December 23. The Chinese Government subsequently confirmed its existence on the official CCTV news channel.

The Z-20 has a takeoff weight of 10 tonnes and can operate at high altitudes. It is believed to feature advanced noise-reduction technology and be able to operate from China’s new Liaoning aircraft carrier.

“The Z-20 is supposed to fill a long-time void in the helicopter fleet of the People’s Liberation Army. Hopefully, it will fulfill the requirements of the PLA’s ground force and navy,” Wang Ya’nan, deputy editor-in-chief at Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the People’s Daily newspaper last week.

“Though we now have the advanced WZ-10 and WZ-19 attack helicopters in the army, the absence of a suitable, Chinese-made utility helicopter hampers the army’s ability to transport strike forces and carry out support missions.”

The helicopter’s close resemblance to the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter has caused some commentators to dub it the ‘Copy Hawk’ and even surmise that it’s based on Chinese examination of the Black Hawk that crashed during the US Navy SEAL operation to kill Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011.

But the Chinese don’t agree. Chen Hong, a researcher at the PLA Air Force Command Institute in Beijing, told Beijing News that “although the aircraft’s appearance bears some resemblances to the US’ Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk, it doesn’t necessarily mean the Z-20 is merely a knockoff of its US counterpart”.

For a start, he said, the Z-20 has a larger cabin and different landing gear and tail. More importantly, it also has a five-blade rotor compared with the UH-60’s four blades.

“The addition of a blade will enable the Z-20 to outperform the UH-60 when it comes to lift force, ferry range and payload capacity,” Chen said.

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Mercedes-Benz Eurocopter EC145 heads for China

© Eurocopter – Charles Abarr

China’s Henan New Continental Business Aviation has become the first Asian company to buy a EC145 Mercedes-Benz Style helicopter from Eurocopter.

Designed in collaboration with the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Studio in Como, Italy, the twin-engined aircraft is made for high-end, VIP operations. Its interior design, which is said to feature high quality materials, elegant woods and ambient cabin lighting, is inspired by Mercedes-Benz cars. It has a versatile and easily transformable cabin suitable for a broad range of activities.

Henan New Continental plans to use the EC145MB to spearhead the creation of a helicopter fleet that will meet China’s growing demand for VIP and business passenger transport. To this end, the company has also bought an AS350 B3e from Eurocopter’s Ecureuil family.

The latest version of the French company’s popular single-engine workhorse – which has a wide cabin, high cruise speed and low vibration levels for passengers – features a more powerful Turbomeca Arriel 2D engine with a longer life cycle and lower maintenance costs, next-generation FADEC (Full Authority Digital Engine Control), an improved interior design and tail rotor modifications for additional ease of piloting.

“While VIP helicopter transportation in China is relatively young, the customers’ needs are maturing rapidly,” Henan chairman Zhou Suiji said in a statement. “With the EC145 Mercedes-Benz Style helicopter and the AS350 B3e, we will be able to meet and exceed their expectations of comfort and exclusivity.”

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