China rising

March 11, 2011 by Tim McAdams

I just returned from HELIEXPO 2011. Held in Orlando, FL this year, it is the Helicopter Association International’s largest show and exposition. Many attendees look for announcements and industry outlooks from the manufactures. This year the mood was very upbeat for the future health of the helicopter industry. Part of this optimism comes from China. 

A recent change in the country’s low-level airspace rules has paved the way for civilian helicopter operations. Currently there are 200 civil helicopters in China and according to Chinese officials that number is expected to increase to 3,000 by 2020. Not wasting any time, a consortium of Chinese aviation companies signed a memorandum of understanding with Erickson Air-Crane that includes the purchase of up to 5 S-64F Air-Cranes. 

Chinese officials also announced, China Helicopter Exposition 2011 – the first edition of a unique show dedicated to the rotorcraft industry and scheduled to run from September 15th to the 18th. It is a direct initiative from Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) and heavily supported by the central government. AVIC helicopter division, AVICOPTER, has invested over $800 billion in a research center and a helicopter production facility in Tianjin. When completed the factory will be manufacturing 30 thirty-ton aircraft, 40 ten-ton aircraft and 170 light aircraft a year. This investment shows how serious the country’s desire is to develop a national rotor aircraft industry. The Tianjin factory is expected to grow its production by 17% annually. This provides opportunities for foreign companies to support what is going to become a major growth area in the global helicopter industry.

  • pdxpilot

    I too had a good show – lots of new announcements – although some newer than others. HAI reported a record in terms of vendors and attendees. Brand new Swiss helicopter, Bell 407’s with guns and glass cockpits, another Eurocopter model (EC145) with Fenestron tail rotor…

    Definitely worth visiting if it’s near you – next year Dallas and then Vegas.

  • Henry Brecher

    800 Billion? I suspect it’s supposed to Million.

  • Tim McAdams


    800 billion does sound like a lot, but the number came from their website:

    Thanks for the comment,

  • Alex Kovnat

    Given what appears to be China’s interest in becoming the major superpower in the Pacific, it would be of interest to know what China is doing in the area of AH64-like attack helicopters, Black Hawk-like utility helos and: are they showing any interest in machines like the V-22, or the Sikorski X2?