Airshow China 2014, all eyes on the new AVIC AC3X2 -PHOTO

Airshow China 2014, all eyes on the new AVIC AC3X2 -PHOTO

Among the skepticism of Western observers and the interest of the local press, all we know about the new low cost helicopter made in China

"A historic moment". With this slogan, the Chinese authorities have unveiled the new AVIC AC3X2 civilian helicopter. The debut took place at the first day of Airshow China 2014, the largest aerospace expo in Asia and, judging from the pictures that are circulating online, the interest of the press and the public has been really quite high.

The name of the light twin is in the typical chinese cryptical style but the mock-up of the helicopter presents some certainly interesting aspects. In the West, the helicopter has given rise to confusion and curiosity between both the insiders that among the amateurs, sparking new topics on the most popular forums.

Actually the AC3X2 it's not completely new: it was unveiled for the first time in summer 2013 at the Tianjin Expo and dince then the whole project has been kept top secret.

In the photogallery: AVIC AC3X2 unveiled

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The information circulating are currently vague and fragmentary. AVIC announced, in a pompous statement that accompanied the presentation ceremony, that the AC3X2 will be able to accommodate up to 10 passengers on board (two pilots and eight passengers), a factor that would mark a record for the 3 tons market segment.

No real news about the engines that, according to the manufacturer, will be able to provide "excellent performance at high altitude" and allow the helicopter to perform a wide range of missions, from HEMS to law enforcement to passengers transport, all thanks to a “modularity” at the time not better described.

Unlike other products in the current range of AVIC, the AC3X2 seems developed from a completely new project. The chinese manufacturer, therefore, is apparently trying to depart from the historic partnership with Eurocopter, which has given rise to the current commercial proposal of AVIC: the AC311 (EC130 based ), the 4 tons AC312 (based on the AS365) to the AC352 medium twin, AKA the made in China EC175.

There is no mention of price. AVIC has so far defined the model with a vague "low cost". The cabin is spacious (you can see the floor, whether is impossibile to see if it's flat or not) and include eight seats positioned on two opposite rows. No information about avionics: from what we can see the AC3X2 has a glass cockpit, with the information that will be problably displayed on three LCD screens with a layout very similar to that already seen on the new AgustaWestland AW109 Trekker.

Game changer or bluff? Time (and CAAC, of course) will tell.