A Chinese helicopter for civil use made its maiden flight Tuesday in the northeastern Heilongjiang Province.
The H425 multi-purpose helicopter, with a maximum payload of 4,250 kg and a range of 800 km, was designed by Harbin Aircraft Industry Co. Group based in the provincial capital Harbin.
The helicopter incorporated state-of-the-art technologies and met international standards in terms of stability, airworthiness and cost-effectiveness, said Cui Xuewen, president of the group.
"The H425 is equipped with advanced engines, gearing devices and anti-crash systems that give early warning of system failures," said Cui. "It marks a new stage for China's helicopter industry."
He foresaw great potential for the helicopter in the domestic and international markets. "Several Chinese users have expressed interest in buying the H425, and we expect an annual exports of 20 to 40 to Africa and other Asian countries and regions."
Some 23,000 commercial helicopters are in operation in the world, about 3.9 for every million people. They are most widely used in the United States, where every million people own 40.1 helicopters.
To date, 18 models of commercial helicopters have been operational in China, over 90 percent of which were imported from Europe and America.
(Xinhua News Agency December 31, 2003)