The first flight of the Avicopter AC352 helicopter, powered by WZ16 engines, took place on 20th December in Harbin. The AC352 is a new 7t twin-engine, multi-purpose rotorcraft jointly developed by Avicopter and Airbus Helicopters, and designated H175 by the European firm.
The two partners signed a 20-year agreement in 2014 covering shared production of around 1,000 machines in France and China. The two versions are equipped with different engines — the H175 is powered by the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C67E.
The WZ16 (known in the west as the Ardiden 3C) has been jointly developed by Safran Helicopter Engines, CAPI and Dongan. The latter two entities are both members of the new Aero Engine Corporation of China (AECC) consortium. The engine is reported to have met all the performance targets set for this maiden flight.
The WZ16 is a new-generation turboshaft in the 1,500 to 2,000 shp power class. It features a remarkably compact modular architecture, a best in class power to weight ratio with a low cost-of-ownership. Compared to the competition, it offers a 10 % lower fuel consumption.
The WZ16 will be the first helicopter engine to be certified in parallel, both in China by the CAAC (Civil Aviation Administration of China) and in Europe under Ardiden 3C designation, by EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) under the Ardiden 3C designation. The EASA certification for the Ardiden 3C is expected by end of 2017, and the CAAC certification for the WZ16 in 2018.
China represents a strategic market for Safran Helicopter Engines. One of every two Chinese-registered helicopters is equipped with a Safran engine or a licensed product.