China approves joint construction of civilian helicopter but no nod yet to Airbus version

The Airbus logo is pictured at the Airbus factory in Montoir-de-Bretagne near Saint-Nazaire, France, March 4, 2022. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

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BEIJING/SYDNEY, July 26 (Reuters) – China has granted certification to the AC352 utility helicopter it is jointly producing with Airbus (AIR.PA), state media said on Tuesday, even as the European aircraft maker waits Beijing’s approval to sell its equivalent rendered in the Asian nation.

Developed by Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) and Airbus, the AC352 is the locally produced variant of the Airbus H175, which has been in service since 2015 outside China and is designed to perform search and rescue missions , emergency medical services and law enforcement. .

A certification ceremony was held in Harbin on Tuesday, CCTV reported.

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The Airbus H175 has yet to enter the Chinese market, as it awaits validation from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

Airbus announced in 2019 that China’s transport ministry had decided to expand its fleet of mid-class search and rescue helicopters with the H175, starting with a two-plane deal, but no regulatory approval has been forthcoming. granted.

Industry sources told Reuters the entry of new foreign products into China has been slow as CAAC, driven by a desire to learn and pass knowledge to its own manufacturers, takes a zero-risk approach. due to high geopolitical tensions between China and the West. countries.

The Airbus A220, a smaller and popular narrow-body model, and the Embraer E2 regional jet have yet to gain Chinese certification after years of overseas service.

CAAC and Airbus did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

AVIC and Airbus signed an agreement in 2014 for the joint production of 1,000 AC352s.

The helicopter is powered by the WZ16 turboshaft engine, developed by state-owned engine manufacturer Aero Engine Corporation of China and Safran Helicopter Engines. It was the first helicopter engine certified by Chinese and European authorities.

The Airbus H175 is powered by Pratt & Whitney engines.

Domestically, the 90-seat ARJ21 regional jet, a rival to the A220 and Embraer E2, is ramping up production and deliveries after receiving large orders from Chinese state-run airlines.

China is also in the process of certifying the use of its C919 aircraft, the first narrow-body jet designed to challenge Airbus and Boeing (BA.N). Read more

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Reporting by Stella Qiu in Beijing and Jamie Freed in Sydney; Additional reporting by Albee Zhang in Beijing; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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