The Aviation Industry Corporation of China (Avic) announced last week it had completed the first test flight of its indigenous multirole AC332 helicopter. The flight occurred at Tainjin in North China.

The twin-engine, four-blade, fenestron-equipped rotorcraft is said to be capable of carrying 10 passengers and has a maximum takeoff weight of 8,500 pounds and a cruising speed of 140 knots. Range is reported as 374 nautical miles.

AVIC also reported it signed purchase agreements and letters of intent for 24 AC322s from the first customers. A lessor based in Xiamen signed for six, and a consortium of Chinese general aviation operators committed to another 18. Proposed missions for the AC332 include general transportation, search-and-rescue and law enforcement. Avic expects type certification in 2025. Li Shengwei, chief designer of the AC332, told reporters that the AC332’s rotor system has been improved to ensure greater efficiency under high-elevation “plateau” operating conditions. “Today’s first flight showed the helicopter’s outstanding handling and maneuverability. It also has good comfort, low flight vibration and low noise,” he said.

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