The Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC) AC312E has completed its first “plateau flight test,” according to a China Aviation News article on AVIC’s website. Taking place at the Ninglang Lugu Lake Airport in the Yunnan province at some 10,000 feet agl, the test marked completion of all high altitude flight test subjects, according to the report.
According to the website, the AC312E is China’s “first” four-ton, dual-use, lightweight domestic civil helicopter. It is a variant of the Harbin Z-2, which is based on the Eurocopter AS365, and took its first flight in August 2016. The report said the helicopter has a “highly integrated” avionics suite and is powered by the AHJE 2H engine, which the report said has a higher power index than the AC321A’s AJHEER 2C. Possible mission profiles include air ambulance, search and rescue, executive transport and law enforcement.
The AC312E reportedly flew over the Loess Plateau, the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the Yunnan Plateau in August. In compliance with airworthiness requirements, the plateau flight was divided into sub-plateau, plateau and high-altitude phases. The AVIC website said 66% of China’s geography includes hilly and mountainous areas.
AVIC expects to receive airworthiness certification next year. The China National Land Resources Aerogeophysical Remote Sensing Center was the first AC312E customer, according to the report. In September, AVIC received a letter of intent from a Tibetan investment group for four of the aircraft to perform emergency rescue missions.