Russo-Chinese AHL helicopter project reaches next stage

The AHL could be certified by 2025 A scaled model of the future rotorcraft was displayed at Airshow China 2016 (Leonid Faerberg /

Technical specifications for a heavy-lift helicopter, known as the Advanced Heavy Lifter (AHL), have been finalized by Russian Helicopters and China’s Avicopter. The final phase of the AHL project was agreed upon after negotiations between representatives of the two countries at this year’s China Helicopter Exposition.

The project stems from an intergovernmental agreement signed by Russia and China in 2016 to design the AHL and set up its series production in China. The agreement, approved by the Russian government in February 2017, makes it clear that the final result will be an almost completely Chinese product. Project management will be handed over to the Chinese party and the resultant helicopter will be chiefly aimed at the Chinese market.

Russian Helicopters will offer support by developing certain subsystems for the rotorcraft that will ultimately be manufactured in China.

“We have managed to come to a consensus with our Chinese partners regarding the technical specifications for the AHL,” said Russian Helicopters CEO Andrey Boginsky. “We now clearly envision the helicopter’s characteristics. At China Helicopter Exposition we carried out constructive negotionations with our Avicopter colleagues, during which we exchanged opinions about the project’s financial side. The Russian side […] will be ready to sign by the end of the year.”

The current agreement does not lay out a schedule. As of last year, officials hoped to have the AHL certified by 2025. Only civil roles are currently being mulled for the helicopter, although it is also expected to find some use with the Chinese military.

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