Tanzania has started to build its own helicopters in a project that will see the first batch of such choppers taking into the sky sometime in 2018.
The prototype model, a two-seater aircraft, is already in its final stages of completion at the Mechanical and Engineering Department of the Arusha Technical College, which runs a full-fledged factory producing various forms of machinery, including a prototype motor vehicle and a number of industrial engines. This is in a bid to complement President Magufuli’s industrialisation policy in pioneering the first locally made helicopters that will be available to ordinary residents at affordable prices.
The idea was hatched two months ago by two engineers at the Arusha Technical College; Engineer Adisai Msongole, now serving as the ATC Bursar, and Engineer Abdi Mjema. The chassis as well as airframe for the pioneer chopper is ready – complete with a mounted flat engine.
The helicopter is currently 50 per cent complete and features the popular gasoline powered VW flat engine on board. The motors, manufactured by Volkswagen in Germany, are the same used to make the ‘Robinson’ helicopters in the United States. Arusha will set history as the first region to fly the first-ever Tanzanian manufactured helicopter in July 2016. With a non-pressurised cabin, the Prototype ATC helicopter has a flying ceiling of 400 feet for starters, taking into consideration that Arusha is already at a higher altitude.