AVICopter AC312 - China, 2017
Detailing the development and operational history of the AVICopter AC312 Intermediate Helicopter.
Entry last updated on 9/6/2016; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The AVICopter AC312, born from the French AS352 Dauphin by way of the Chinese Z-9 series, is set to compete in the intermediate helicopter market.
Along with Pakistan, China is a primary user of the locally produced Harbin "Z-9" medium-lift multipurpose utility-minded military helicopter. The Z-9 is based on the French Airbus Helicopters (Eurocopter) AS365 "Dauphin" and produced, under license, by Harbin under the revised designation. Sensing the market potential for a civilian-minded version of its Z-9, AVICopter revealed the AC312 in 2015 and a first-flight was reported occurring on August 18, 2016. The helicopter is slated for service in the general transport, Search And Rescue (SAR) and medical transport industries.
Outwardly, the AC312 retains much of the form and function of the Z-9 and AC365 before it. A short nosecone sits ahead of the two-seat cockpit and a passenger cabin is fitted at midships. The engine compartment is set over the cabin and drives a four-bladed composite main rotor blade. The tail stem tapers to a Fenestron tail rotor unit (the rotor is shrouded on all sides for noise reduction and embedded into the tail fin). Vertical planes are seated on outcroppings along the tail stem, towards the aft section of the helicopter. The undercarriage is fully retractable and made up of two single-wheeled main legs and a double-wheeled nose leg.
Internally, the AC312 carries 2 x Safran "Arriel 2E" series turboshaft engines developing an estimated 1,000 horsepower each. Performance specs include a maximum speed of nearly 200 miles per hour, a range out to 515 miles and a service ceiling nearing 20,000 feet. The avionics fit is provided by American supplier Rockwell Collins. Dimensions constitute a length of 12 meters with a width (rotor diameter included) of 12 meters and a height of 4 meters.
The AC312 could enter operational service as soon as 2017.