Avicopter is hoping to make the first delivery of its Aircar utility airplane this year, with the limited number of customers so far all Chinese.

The company has orders for fewer than 10 Aircars, says an official from another Avic unit, adding that interest in the 19-passenger aircraft should pick up once it is certified and performing well in service. The current customers are specialist general-aviation operators.

For the moment, potential customers are also mostly Chinese, with a secondary focus on Asia, especially Indonesia, says the official. A key aim of the program is to get FAA endorsement of its Chinese certification, to open foreign markets.

The Aircar’s predecessor, the Y-12, has been sold fairly widely with certification recognized by Western countries.

Originally called Y-12F or Y12F, the Aircar program began as an update of the earlier aircraft but evolved into a completely new type. Its engines are Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-65Bs. Honeywell supplies its Primus Apex avionics suite. A later pressurized version is proposed.

Avicopter is the rotary-wing subsidiary of Avic but owns the Aircar’s production line as part of a 2008-09 reorganization of the group in which each established program was assigned to whichever subsidiary took over its factory. The Aircar line is at the Harbin plant, which mainly focuses on helicopter production.