No. 12962. Eurocopter EC120 B HE.25 Colibri (HE.25-8 c/n 1197, HE.25-9 c/n 1198, HE.25-12 c/n 1222, HE.25-13 c/n 1223) Spanish Air Force
Photographed at Gilze-Rijen Air Base, Netherlands, June 21, 2014, by Jos Fiering

Eurocopter Eurocopter EC120 B HE.25 Colibri

06/05/2016. Remarks by Walter van Tilborg and Johan Visschedijk: "The EC120 was an all-new design, till January 1993 known by the project number P120L. The program was started in early 1988 with a protocol agreement between Aérospatiale (France), ASTA (Aerospace Technologies of Australia), CATIC (China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation) and HAMC (Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Company) of Harbin, China, covering the development of a five-seat light utility helicopter for civil and military applications. ASTA withdrew late 1989, when the definition phase was launched on February 15, 1990, Singapore Technologies Aerospace had joined the program; detail design started December 1990.

On January 16, 1992 the helicopter divisions of Aerospatiale and Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm (Germany) merged into Eurocopter, the French branch of the new company continued Aérospatiale's leading role in the project. It later built the prototypes and also undertook the series assembly, while production of parts and components was undertaken by HAMC and by Singapore Aerospace. In 2004 Hafei Aviation Industry Co. Ltd. at Harbin, China, opened a second assembly line to produce aircraft for the Chinese market (including Chinese army and police forces).

EC120: This designation was used for the two flying prototypes with the 500 shp Turboméca TM319 Arrius 1B1 shaft turbine engine. Registered F-WWPA the first prototype was first flown at Marignane, France, June 9, 1995, with test pilot Etienne Herrenschmidt and engineer Bernard Cortain at the controls. Subsequently the horizontal tail was raised to a position in the tail boom and a small ventral fin was added under the Fenestron tail rotor. Other changes involved the skid undercarriage and the engine air inlet, which was moved to the right hand side. In this configuration the second prototype (F-WWPD c/n 2) was first flown on July 17, 1996. Type Certificate was obtained on June 16, 1997.

EC120 B Colibri: This designation was used for the production model, deliveries of which began in 1998. These were fitted with a 503 shp TM319A Arrius 2F engine and incorporated all changes which had been carried out on the first prototype. Late-2004 it was announced that the EC120 had been selected by the US Department of Home Security for operations by the US Customs and Border Protection Agency. At least 19 were reassembled at the American Eurocopter plant in Mississippi.

HC120: Designation for aircraft assembled by Hafei. In 2005 deliveries began to the Chinese AF, which eventualy ordered some 150 aircraft.

H120: On January 1, 2014 Eurocopter became Airbus Helicopters within the Airbus Group, and on January 1, 2015 Airbus Helicopters redesignated the EC120 B as the H120.

One Colibri is being used as a Green Rotorcraft Integrated Technology Demonstrator for the European Clean Sky Program to develop technologies to increase environmental performance, as well as quieter and more fuel efficient aircraft. Targets are to reduce specific fuel consumption by 30%, CO2 emissions by 40% and NOx by 53%. The demonstrator is fitted with an 1.22 gal (4.6 l) high compression eight cylinder V-engine that could run on kerosene fuel. Designated AE 440 the engine was developed by Austro Engine GmbH of Wiener Neustadt, Austria, the transmission was developed by TEOS Powertrain Engineering of Montigny-le-Bretonneux, France. The experimental aircraft, most likely a converted EC120 B, is designated H120 by Airbus Helicopters but dubbed EC120 HCE by the media. Registered F-WMXC it was first flown at Marignane on November 6, 2015.

To date some 700 aircraft have been delivered to over 400 customers in more than fifty countries.

Created June 6, 2016