The MBB / Kawasaki BK.117 is a ten-seat multi-mission medium-weight class, twin-engine helicopter. Development of the
BK117 started in 1977 as a co production between MBB from Germany and Kawasaki Heavy Industries from Japan. The
first of four prototypes, two built by MBB in Donauwörth and two by Kawasaki in Gifu, flew in Germany on 13 June 1979.
The first prototype built in Japan flew on 10 August 1979. The first production aircraft (built by KHI in Japan)
flew in December 1981, and first deliveries took place early in 1983. Initial production was of the BK 117 A1, while the
BK 117 A3 with higher max takeoff weight and enlarged tail rotor with twisted blades was certificated in March 1985.
The BK 117 A4 with increased performance and improved tail rotor head was introduced in 1987. When the helicopter
divisions of MBB from Germany and Aerospatiale from France merged in January 1992 to form the Eurocopter
Group, the MBB BK.117 program was transferred as well. In 2002, the assembly line for the Eurocopter BK 117 C-1 twin
helicopter was transferred from its German production facility in Donauwörth to Trento in Italy. Eurocopter uses the
production facilities in Donauwörth for the EC 145 multi-role helicopter. This EC 145 flew first in 1999 and has been
jointly developed by Eurocopter and Kawasaki Heavy Industries of Japan. The EC 145 is designated the BK 117 C-2 in Japan.
Over 400 Eurocopter / Kawasaki BK 117 helicopters in different versions were built, including production under licence
by IPTN in Indonesia and Avionline in Italy.
As a result of the merger between the Eurocopter parents Aérospatiale-Matra; DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (DASA)
and Construcciones Aeronàuticas Sociedad Anonima (CASA) in July 2000, the Eurocopter group became a division of the new formed
EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space company). Taking off into 2014, EADS was rebranded as "Airbus Group". Uniting
all its activities under a single brand, its helicopter division Eurocopter was rebranded as Airbus Helicopters on 8 January 2014.
On 18 August 1986, the 1986-built MBB BK.117A-3 c/n 7096 was permited to fly with the MBB test registration D-HBPQ. On 28 August 1986, the MBB BK.117A-3 was
temporarely registered N118MB in the USA. On 17 September 1986, testreistration D-HBPQ was cancelled and the helicopter was registered N118MB in the USA.
On 26 October 1992, registration N118MB was cancelled as exported to Brazil. On 30 November 1992, the MBB BK.117A-3 was registered PT-HJM and entered service
as an EMS helicopter with HeliJet Aerotaxi Ltda. On 28 January 1999, registration PT-HJM was cancelled and the helicopter returned to Germany. Back in Germany,
the helicopter was upgraded into a BK.117B-2 before it was registered D-HILF with Eurocopter Germany in November 2000. In January 2001, the D-HILF entered service
with Team DRF / HSD Hubschrauber Sonder Dienst Flugbetriebs. Starting from 23 September 2008, the DRF-Deutsche Rettungsflugwacht e.V. introduced a new name and logo.
From that day, the former DRF consists of three parts: a non-profit sponsored association, a foundation under public law and a non-profit corporation which is the
operational unit. The operational work of the DRF continued as before. The German air rescue companies HSD-Hubschauber Sonder Dienst Flugbetriebs and HDM Luftrettung
also appeared under the name of DRF Luftrettung starting from 23 September 2008. The previous branding of “Air Rescue Alliance TEAM DRF” is no longer used. When seen
at Halle-Oppin, Eurocopter BK.117-B-2 D-HJJJ was in service as ITH "Christoph Sachsen-Anhalt". In November 2011, DRF ordered 25 EC145 T2 helicopters as
replacement for the MBB BK117's in service for delivery from December 2013 through 2022.
ITH (Intensiv Transport Hubschrauber) Eurocopter BK.117-B-2 D-HILF was seen at the
helipad of the Luftrettungszentrum Halle in Oppin, Germany, when in service as
"Christoph Sachsen-Anhalt". This Air Rescue Centre is situated next to Halle-Oppin Airport.
Operations of Luftrettungszentrum Halle started on 1 July 1991, as HSD-Luftrettungszentrum Halle at Flugplatz Halle-Oppin.
In January 2007, the HSD-Luftrettungszentrum Halle moved to a new site next to Flugplatz Halle-Oppin. From the start,
both helicopters of Luftrettungszentrum Halle, "Christoph Halle" and "Christoph Sachsen-Anhalt" are
operated by HSD-Hubschauber Sonder Dienst Flugbetriebs GmbH & CO. KG. Since 1 January 2012, Luftrettungszentrum Halle
is operated by the Bewerbergemeinschaft HSD Luftrettung gemeinnützige GmbH and DRF Stiftung Luftrettung gemeinnützige AG.
Luftrettungszentrum Halle is on 24-hour standby. Callsign "Christoph" is used for the German lifeliner
helicopters since 1970 and is derived of Saint Christophorus, the Patron Saint for all travellers.