BEIJING, Sept. 11 (UPI) -- A proposed program by China and Russia to jointly develop a heavy-lift helicopter could begin next year as the two near finalization of the project agreement.
"The project is progressing smoothly, and we are discussing with our Russian counterparts terms and clauses in the agreement," Wu Ximing, chief helicopter designer at Aviation Industry Corp of China, was quoted by China Daily. "The negotiations should conclude before the end of this year and the development will start next year."
China Daily, with headquarters in Beijing, reported production of the aircraft would take place in China.
China will supply avionics systems and advanced materials for the helicopter, while Russia will be responsible for the aerodynamic design, transmission gear and de-icing equipment.
According to the Aviation Industry Corp of China, the helicopter will have the capability to carry 10 tons of cargo within the cabin or more than 100 people.
It has a maximum cruising speed of about 184 miles per hour and a range of 394 miles.
The aircraft would conduct its first flight around 2020.
"Compared with Russia's Mil Mi-26, now the largest helicopter used in China, the new aircraft will be more adaptable to plateaus and tropical regions," said Huang Chuanyue, deputy chief engineer at Avicopter, AVIC's helicopter branch. "This is very important because China has vast plateau areas and mountainous terrain, as well as many islands that are difficult to access by other means."
China Daily reported that Huang said China will need at least 200 heavy-lift helicopters within the next 30 years.
Worldwide demand for heavy-lift helicopters during that period will reach about 2,000 and "we expect this helicopter will corner about 25 percent of the international market for this type," he said.
Heavy-lift helicopters in use worldwide include Boeing's CH-47 Chinook, Sikorsky's CH-53E Super Stallion and Russia's Mil Mi-26.