China’s state-owned aircraft manufacturer Avic announced the first flight of its light-twin AC332 helicopter on Friday in Tianjin. Stylistically a cross between the Bell 429 and the Airbus H145, the AC332 features a four-blade main rotor system and ducted tail rotor and is designed for hot-and-high operations. It is powered by a pair of 1,800-shp Avic WZ-20 engines.
Performance targets include a capacity of up to 10 passengers and two crew, 8,487-pound MTOW, 374-nm range, 140-knot maximum cruise speed, and 19,685-foot service ceiling. According to Avic, the AC332 has the capacity to take off at an altitude of 14,763 feet and transport a payload of 1,323 pounds over a distance of 324 nm.
To date, Avic reports receiving orders for 24 of the helicopters from China-based customers. Deliveries are expected to begin in 2025.
The AC332 designation was previously applied to a Sino-Russian heavy-lift helicopter joint-venture development program first announced in 2015. That design appeared to be a scaled-down version of the Mil Mi-26 and featured a seven-blade main rotor system and an 84,000-pound MTOW. While the future of that program; remains unknown, China first leased and later bought Mi-26s directly from Russia. Courtesy of AIN