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Airbus Helicopters H120

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The H120 is a member of Airbus Helicopters' light Colibri family of aircraft. It started life as the Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters) EC120 Colibri (Hummingbird), a five seat, single engine, light utility helicopter. It was jointly designed and developed by Eurocopter, China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC) and Singapore Technologies Aerospace (STAero) at Eurocopter’s Marignane facility in France.

On 20 October 1992, these partners signed a joint development contract. CATIC designed and produced the cabin structure and fuel system; STAero produced the tail boom, access doors and composite materials; while Eurocopter produced the dynamic assemblies, installed the avionics, electrical and hydraulic systems, and conducted the final assembly activity.

A maiden flight of the first prototype was conducted on 9 June, 1995. One year later it had accumulated 60 flight hours and a second prototype had joined the test programme. In February 1997 the EC120 Colibri was formally launched at the Helicopter Association International (HAI) show in Anaheim, California.

By June 1997, more than 50 orders had been received, and another 50 by October 1998. In 2002, Eurocopter was in the process of establishing a second assembly line for the EC120 at Australian Aerospace's facility in Brisbane, Australia.

In September 2003, a co-production arrangement was signed with Harbin Aircraft Industry Group (HAIG), leading to a final production agreement on 11 June, 2004, when Eurocopter agreed to stop selling France-built EC120s in mainland China. Instead, Harbin Aviation Industries began local manufacturing of what it called the HC120 at its assembly line in northern China.

The EC120 was transitioned to the Airbus Helicopters brand in 2014, along with the entire Eurocopter rotorcraft portfolio.

The H120 seats one pilot and four passengers inside a wide, air conditioned cabin. It is powered by a 504 shp Safran Arrius 2F turboshaft engine, has a three-bladed, bearingless Spheriflex-type main rotor and an eight-bladed Fenestron anti-torque tail rotor. The expansive glass windshield and side windows provide good visibility for all onboard.

The design of the cabin is suitable for a wide variety of civilian and parapublic missions, such as utility transport, offshore transport, training, law enforcement, casualty evacuation and corporate transport. In the casualty evacuation role, the rotorcraft can carry one pilot and one stretcher patient as well as one or two medical attendants.

In a cargo-carrying capacity, it can carry 104 cu ft of total useful load volume spread between the flat floor cabin and the hold.

Its simple design means most maintenance tasks can be performed by the operators themselves, with a limited need for specific tools.

Nicknamed the ‘eye in the sky’, the H120 has been a preferred helicopter for law enforcement operations, that benefit from its discrete operation, effective manoeuverability and enhanced safety features.

On 30 November 2017 Airbus Helicopters announced the end of the H120 programme citing low delivery numbers. The last H120 had been delivered in the October following a production run across both Eurocopter and Airbus of more than 700 units.

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News from Business Air News
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HCare Classics is Airbus' recently-launched support package entirely dedicated to meeting the support needs of the company's out-of-production legacy helicopters. The Bundespolizei has signed up for its 10 H120s.
Swiss Helicopter signs H120s up for HCare Classics upgrade
November 10, 2022
The company's pilots, flight instructors and technicians are already familiar with this avionics system as is it used on the H125 fleet. Now the H120s will benefit from the same level of safety and performance.
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