by Xinhua writer Hu Tao
BEIJING, July 26 (Xinhua) -- China has surpassed the United States to become the world's largest civil aircraft market of Airbus Helicopters in terms of annual booking, say company executives.
"China is quite a dynamic market with around 20-percent annual growth. Airbus Helicopters foresees even greater potential," Marie-Agnes Veve, general manager of Airbus Helicopters China, told Xinhua in an interview.
"Airbus Helicopters aims to establish a partnership with China, which is our largest market and an important partner in industrial cooperation."
SUPER PUMA ON SHOW
Airbus Helicopters is gearing up to meet China's surging demand with a full range of helicopters, covering almost all sizes and functions.
The company is the leader in the global civil helicopter market, with 47 percent of the market share.
Last year, it delivered 35 civil helicopters to China, making China the largest civil market in terms of annual bookings.
It recently conducted a demonstration tour in China with its heavy twin-engine H215 helicopter, the newest member of the Super Puma family.
The demonstration highlighted the H215's multi-function capabilities such as firefighting, power line survey, law enforcement and passenger transport.
It conducted flight and aerial operation demonstrations in the coastal cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai, in south China's Guangdong Province, and the plateau city of Lijiang, in southwest China's Yunnan Province.
In a forest firefighting simulation, it collected water from a nearby lake. Watched by Chinese aviation insiders, it hovered and dropped 3 tonnes of water from a huge bucket above the forest.
"It performs well with the powerful twin engines and modern avionics with four-axis autopilot, which ensures its stability and flexibility ," said Vincent Dufour, vice president of Airbus Helicopters China.
In the next 10 years, China is expected to acquire about 100 aircraft for forest firefighting. About half of these will be medium-heavy helicopters that can carry water buckets and operate in highland regions.
In May this year, Airbus Helicopters broke ground on its H135 final assembly line (FAL) in east China's Qingdao city. It will be the first Western helicopter manufacturer to establish an FAL in China.
It will be the firm's first H135 FAL outside Europe and it is expected to start delivery in 2019 with an annual output of 18, said Veve.
Airbus Helicopters would also offer a comprehensive service network, including pilot and maintenance training, as well as Maintenance, Repair and Operations(MRO) support.
Chinese demand for helicopters with multiple functions such as emergency medical services, law enforcement, firefighting, and tourism is soaring. However, by the end of 2016, its civil helicopter fleet was estimated at just 800.
China is set to boost the development of the general aviation industry, with a focus on civil helicopters. The market value is expected to reach 1 trillion yuan (147.2 billion U.S. dollars).