The Eurocopter EC120 B Colibri is a 5-seat light utility helicopter
powered by a single Turbomeca Arrius 2F turbine engine. The EC120 B
Colibri, also known as Hummingbird, was developed with simplicity of
design and low costs of maintenance in mind. It makes extensive use of
composite materials and modern avionics. The new generation of fenestron
tail rotor takes part in the decrease in external noise level, which
makes the EC120 B ideal for missions near settled areas. The project
started in 1990 when Aerospatiale of France, CATIC of China and
Singapore Aerospace agreed in forming a partnership to develop a new
light helicopter, then designated P‑120L. Definition phase of the
original P120L was subsequently redesigned with 500 kg lower gross weight
and new engine and rotor. The helicopter divisions of Aerospatiale from France and MBB from Germany
merged in January 1992 to form the Eurocopter Group. In October 1992, development of the new helicopter
started and in January 1993, Eurocopter designation EC 120 was given to the helicopter. Mid-1993, the design definition was completed
and assembly of first of two prototypes began at Eurocopter France at Marignane in early 1995.
Eurocopter EC-120 prototype F-WWPA c/n 1 flew first on 9 June 1995. The second prototype (F-WWPD c/n 2) was flown 17 July
1996. Certification to JAR 27 was achieved on 16 June 1997. Production of the EC 120 began on a small scale in 1997 at Eurocopter
France's Marignane facility, with the first production Colibri (F-WWPL
c/n 1005) flying on 5 December 1997.
On 11 June 2004, CATIC, HAI and Eurocopter signed a contract to set up an second assembly
line to manufacture the EC120 helicopter in Harbin, China. The EC120 built by HAI - Harbin Aviation Industries Co., Ltd. (Hafei
Aviation), part of AviChina Industry & Technology Company Ltd., is known as HC120.
The HC120 is destined for the Chinese domestic market as well as the army's
pilot training. Until 2014, Eurocopter has built more than 700 EC120 B helicopters.
As a result of
the merger between the Eurocopter parents French Aerospatiale-Matra, the
German DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (DASA) and the Spanish CASA companies
in July 2000, the Eurocopter group became a division of the new formed
EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company). Taking off
into 2014, the EADS group has been rebranded as "Airbus Group". Uniting
all its activities under a single brand, Airbus Group also renamed its helicopter division Eurocopter, that was rebranded
Airbus Helicopters on 8 January 2014.