Avicopter AC301 / AC311
In conjunction with the June certification of the AC311, Avicopter announced orders for 62 of the single-engine, 2.2-ton aircraft from state enterprises, some linked with the manufacturer. The order figure is large for the local market, but it is unclear whether the contracts are binding, since “orders” announced by Chinese manufacturers sometimes do not represent binding contracts, especially when the customer is a state firm.
The AC311 can carry six people and has a 900-kg (2,000-lb.) maximum load capacity, 620-km (385-mi.) range, 4-hr. endurance and 242-kph (150-mph.) maximum cruise speed. “The tips of the main rotor blades are elliptical, improving aerodynamic efficiency and reducing aerodynamic noise,” the manufacturer says.
The rotorcraft is similar to and follows the configuration of the Eurocopter AS350 Squirrel, an unauthorized copy of which Avicopter builds as the AC301. The Chinese company says it has independently developed the AC311 using three-dimensional digital techniques and that it has been designed in accordance with international airworthiness standards. Industry officials say Eurocopter did not help. Honeywell has supplied its LTS101-700D-2 engine for the program, but Turbomeca signed an agreement with Avic unit China South Aviation Industry to cooperate on the Arriel 2B1A for the AC311. Avicopter says the AC311's dynamic components are designed to be long-lasting, but it gives no figures.
Preliminary design was completed in 2009 and detail design and engineering development in March 2010. First flight occurred the following November. In 2011, the company said it would be certified by the end of that year.