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Tanzania has made its First Helicopter, and will be Airborne by 2018

by Milicent Atieno
Tanzania has made its First Helicopter, and will be Airborne by 2018

It looks like Tanzania’s new President John Pombe Magufuli (JPM) policy of ‘Hapa Kazi Tu’ (Just Work Over Here) is trickling down to the citizens. Engineers at the Mechanical and Engineering Department of the Arusha Technical College (ATC) have pulled a first one for Tanzania, making the country now visible on the world map of aviation builders.

Engineers at ATC have made a prototype helicopter model that is currently in its final stages of completion and they projecting it will officially take to the sky by 2018. It is a two-seater chopper powered by a gasoline Volkswagen flat engine board that is used in make the U.S.-based Robinson helicopters.

The Ideation of Helicopter made in Tanzania

Abdi Mjema, one of the engineers at ATC working on the helicopter said, “We are complementing President Magufuli’s industrialization policy in pioneering the first locally made helicopters that will be available to ordinary residents at affordable prices.”

The engineers are currently at 50% mark of fully completing building the helicopter. It is said they have the chassis and airframe ready and fitted it with the engine. They are waiting for the aviation regulatory body for approval.

We are contacting the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) for the permission to fly the chopper for trials. Once we get the aviation authority approval, we shall complete the most sensitive part of the helicopter, mounting the main rotor.”

Tanzania’s Permanent Secretary (PS) for the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology Maimuna Tarishi toured the site last weekend and was surprised by the progress made. She asked when they could expect the choppers from ATC to be ready.

Mjema assured the PS once they get the TCAA approval, things will move faster, and ‘affordable’ choppers will ease Tanzania’s transportation woes soon.

The Tanzania-made helicopters will fly before 2020, and specifically 2018, which is two years from now.”

The idea of building a chopper came from two engineers at the ATC, Engineer Adisai Msongole, and Engineer Abdi Mjema.

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We had initially intended the two-seater helicopter to be used for surveillance, rescue, and agricultural purposes. However, as the project takes shape, we may increase the airframe to carry more people for serious transportation.”

The Chopper’s Altitude limitations

The Tanzanian chopper currently has a flying ceiling of 400 feet (121.93 meters). It will need more adjustments for it to fly higher altitudes such as pressurized cabin to fly higher. The engineers say the plan later to increase its flying ceiling to the standard commercial chopper altitude of 8,000 feet (24.384 kilometers) above sea level.

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