Geeking out in Tianjin

The China Helicopter Exposition is being held from 9-13 September in Tianjin, a city that recently gained notoriety after a massive explosion in a chemical storage area.

This is the third iteration of the exhibition, but it is the first time Shephard has attended. Dominated by Chinese manufacturers like the massive Aviation Corporation of China (AVIC), and with solid attendance from Western manufacturers such as Airbus Helicopters, Sikorsky, Bell Helicopter, Rockwell Collins and Honeywell, it is a good opportunity to find out what is stirring in the Chinese market.

Of interest was the exhibition of an export version of the Z-19 light armed helicopter, a type that has been designated the Z-19E. AVIC also unveiled the AC352, the ‘Chinese version’ of the Airbus H175.

AVIC is busy developing complete families of helicopters, with the AC311 and AC312 already in full production. The AC322 was also shown, a new platform scheduled to fly in 2018 for the first time.

As well as rotary-winged craft, the China Helicopter Exposition was a showcase for a plethora of UAV designs from a couple of dozen different Chinese firms.

For the aviation geeks, there were daily flight demonstrations, the most dramatic of which were by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Aviation aerobatic team. The team was flying Z-19 and Z-10 attack helicopters in sparkling routines.

The large AC313 platform also gave a fire-fighting demonstration, while the police showed how to take down criminals with an AC312.

The accompanying photos give a taste of the action in Tianjin…

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