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China Is Said To Be Developing An Electric Helicopter

Initial Demonstrations On An Electric Tail Rotor Have Been Carried Out, According To Officials

China is in the process of developing an electric helicopter at the China Helicopter Research and Development Institute.

Chinese state media reports that the research is in its preliminary stages with a goal of building a prototype for demonstration purposes. Deng Jinghui, chief designer at the China Helicopter Research and Development Institute in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province, said that so far, trial demonstrations of an electric tail rotor have been completed, and preparations are underway for the device to be flight-tested on a conventional helicopter. The conventional tail rotor and transmission gear will be removed, and the electric tail rotor, which generates power independently from the aircraft's main engine, will be installed.

Deng said testing of the tail rotor system will take about two years. If it performs as expected, the main engine of the same AC331 helicopter will be replaced with an electric motor to drive the aircraft's main rotors.

The overall goal of the program is to build an all-electric helicopter. But stronger motors and more powerful and efficient batteries will have to be developed to make the aircraft a reality. China says that it hopes to have a prototype aircraft flying within the next 10 years.

In 2011, a manned electric helicopter, the Solution F/Chretien, was built and flown by Pascal Chretien, a French-Australian helicopter pilot and engineer, for technology demonstration purposes, according to the report.

(AC311 image courtesy of AVIC)

FMI: Source report


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