Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Eurocopter Receives the First Airframe Structure for the EC175 Prototype from Chinese Harbin Aviation Industry Co.

(Source: American Eurocopter; issued November 17, 2008)

On 15th November, Harbin Aviation Industry Co. (HAIG) successfully delivered the first EC175 airframe structure to Eurocopter at its factory in Harbin/China in the presence of representatives from both companies. This is the 3rd key milestone for the development of this multi-role medium-twin class 16-passenger helicopter.

The EC175/Z15 is a 50:50 joint programme between Eurocopter and HAIG, a subsidiary of the Chinese helicopter manufacturer AVICOPTER. The cooperation contract was signed on 5th December 2005 with the completion of the Preliminary Design Review in 2006 followed by the Critical Design Review in 2007

After the delivery of this airframe structure from Harbin, the assembly of the first EC175 prototype will start in Marignane with its maiden flight will take place by the end of 2009. The EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) type certification for this helicopter is expected for 2011 with CAAC (Civil Aviation Administration of China) certification for this aircraft, called “Z15” in China, in 2012.

Eurocopter and HAIG are very satisfied with the progress of the development program which is consistent with the initial schedule. Both parties also insisted on the excellent spirit between the teams since the very beginning of the cooperation.

The delivery of the first EC175 helicopter is expected to start in 2012 with the objective to sell approximately 800 helicopters over 20 years worldwide. A big step towards this target was taken at the unveiling of the helicopter at Heli-Expo 2008 in Houston this February where Eurocopter signed intentions to buy with 13 different customers for a total of 111 units in 3 days.

Showcased for the first time at Zhuhai Airshow in early November in China, a letter of intent for 5 Z15 helicopters was also signed between HAIG and Longken General Aviation Cooperation – a domestic general-purpose aviation company.

These significant orders illustrate the fact that the EC175/Z15 perfectly complements the current Eurocopter and AVICOPTER product range and meets the market needs – primarily offshore passenger transport but also missions such as Search and Rescue, Emergency Medical Services as well as business and commercial aviation.

The EC175/Z15 program – the summit of a long history of cooperation with China

Eurocopter has had a lengthy experience of partnership in China – a good example would be the development, industrialisation and serial production of the EC120 B in 1992. All the structures for these aircraft (equipped with the fuel system, canopy, right and small door and engine cowlings) are manufactured by HAIG in Harbin. To date, more than 600 Colibris have been delivered throughout the world.

The EC175/Z15 development programme brought this cooperation to a new level – that of a 50:50 workshare. With a common goal, teams from both entities worked together in perfect harmony and coordination, be it in the beginning in the joint design office based in Marignane (where there were as many as 70 Chinese engineers at one time) or today where the teams are back in their respective organisations.

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