Hamilton’s Aerospace Ltd’s turboprop P-750 light utility aircraft has been developed into an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in conjunction with a group of Chinese organisations for commercial and military applications.
The AT200 has been developed by Chinese company Star UAV with the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Engineering Thermophysics and other Chinese state organisations.
Launch customer SF Express, a Chinese delivery services company based in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China, and the second largest courier in China will acquire three AT200 for testing and evaluation. Test flights have already begun.
SF Express provides domestic and international express delivery.
The plan is to use the aircraft for unmanned cargo flights. The AT200 will carry 1500 kg over ranges of up to 2000 km.
Attracting interest from agencies outside China is how SF Express would integrate the AT200 into its intensive network of logistical support for the Chinese Peoples’ Liberation Army, notably its new network of militarised islands in the disputed South China Sea.
Aerospace developed the P-750 from the legendary Fletcher Fu24 aerial topdressing machine. It is in widespread use around the world for tasks ranging from light freight to sky-diving.
The company says its extremely short capabilities put it in a class of its own.
It is certified in the US as well as NZ and is supported by major US firms including Pratt & Whitney, engine-makers.
In China where skydiving has taken off as a recreational activity, Aerospace’s P-750 is used extensively because of its ability to carry up to 17 skydivers to jump height fast and effortlessly and to return quickly to pick up more thrill-seekers.
Last year the company was taken to court and fined $74,000 for breaking UN sanctions by shipping parts to North Korea.