Tanzania has begun building its own helicopters that will be taking to the skies soon.
A Tanzanian-made two-seater chopper is in its final stages of production and will start flying trials once it is granted permission by the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority, reports Daily news.
Arusha Technical College’s department of mechanical engineering initiated the programme, so as to build affordable choppers for Tanzanians to ease the country’s transport woes.
“We are complementing President Magufuli’s industrialisation policy in pioneering the first locally-made helicopters that will be available to ordinary residents at affordable prices,” explained the engineer behind the ATC chopper project, Mr Abdi Mjema.
It was initiated two months ago with the aim of using the chopper for surveillance, rescue and agricultural purposes, but reframed to transport people.
Now 50 per cent done, the pioneer aircraft has a chassis, as well as airframe ready, and uses a popular gasoline-powered VW flat engine board that is also used to make the “Robinson” helicopters in the US. But the craft will be ready in three weeks’ time.
“Once we get the aviation authority’s approval, we shall complete the most sensitive part of the helicopter – mounting the main rotor”, said the engineer.
Arusha city in the northern region of Tanzania is looking to make history as the first region to fly the first-ever Tanzanian manufactured helicopter in July 2016.
With a flying ceiling of 400 to begin with, due to the high altitude in the mountainous region and a non-pressurised cabin, the Prototype ATC helicopter will change things for the East African nation. The engineers will increase the flying height to reach 8,000 feet above sea level (that of the normal commercial chopper) with more complete and accomplished models.
According to the college, it can produce up to 20 choppers in a year, when the project gets a nod from higher authorities. “The Tanzania-made helicopters will fly before 2020 and specifically 2018, which is two years from now,” said Mr Mjema.