Development began in 1975, as a product of reverse-engineering the Aéropatiale SA 321Ja Super Frelon amphibious helicopter. Manufacturing of the Z-8 was assigned to the Changhe Helicopter Factory (with the addition of Harbin later on); reverse-engineering of the Turmo IIIC6-70 and production as the WZ6 performed by the Jiangxi Helicopter Engine Factory. The Z-8 was cleared for operation with PLANAF in 1989 and certified in 1994. The only known export customer is the Sudanese Air Force.
The cabin can hold up to 27 troops with full kit or 39 soldiers. Early Z-8s lacked weather radar; fitted with electric hoist (Capacity: 275 kg)
Maximum internal and external payloads are 4,000 kg and 5,000 kg, respectively. The normal take-off weight is 9,000 kg; while the MTOW with standard fuel is 10,592 kg, two auxiliary tanks can be equipped--producing a MTOW of 12,074 kg.
VTOL type: Helicopter
Lift devices: 1 Single main rotor
Dedicated control device: 1 Tail rotor
Crew required: 2 in Side-by-side arrangement
Landing gear: Wheels (all retractable)