Changhe Zhi-11 / Z-11 (H-11)
Development by Chinese Helicopter R&D Institute began in 1991, the Z-11 (Zhishengji-11 / Vertical take-off aircraft 11) appears identical externally to Eurocopter AS 350B Ecureuil except for nose contours, but CHAIG publicity in mid-2001, stated that "China owns its independent intellectual property rights". Eurocopter (which sold eight Ecureuils to China in 1996) declines to comment on its provenance.
First details officially released at China Air Show in Zhuhai November 1996, together with photographs showing one or two Z-11s in flight, the quoted first flight date of 22 December 1994 is thought to refer to re-engined modification of two secondhand ex-US AStars (Ecureuils) acquired earlier that year. In early 1997, a Chinese government agency announced that the Z-11 had flown for the first time on 26 December 1996.
Technical appraisal was completed in 1996, and small batch production began in 1997. Test programme included flights totalling 1332km in temperatures from —43 to +6°C, including a 2-hour sortie cruising at -38°C. Design was finalised in December 2000, and the Z-11 received CAAC certification in April 2001. CAAC approval for series production for civilian use was announced on 23 December 2002. Power was one 510kW WZ8D turboshaft (licence-built Turbomeca Arriel ID), reportedly produced by Liming engine factory.
Eight said to have been completed by late 1996, of which four had been delivered. All photographs released before late 1998 showed Z-11 in military camouflage with PLA insignia. One report from Aviation Expo China in October 1997 stated that the PLA had ordered 20 military Z-11s, these apparently going to Army Aviation's training school. Production amounted to 'several dozen' by mid-2001, at which time some 10,000 hours flown and 50,000 take-offs and landings. Chongqing Three Gorges General Aviation Airlines (one ordered) reported as first civil customer in mid-2001; China Central Television of Jiangxi Province received one on 25 August 2002.
An armed version, equipped with cannon, ATMs, unguided rockets and a roof-mounted low-light/infra-red sight, has been reported. Later version to be announced is the Z11-MB1, which made its first flight on 7 March 2003 powered by a 632kW Turbomeca Arriel 2B1A turboshaft.