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Eurocopter EC120 B Colibri
RA-04042 RA-04114
ZS-RZZ Airbus Helicopters EC120 B Colibri c/n 1207 - South Africa - 4 March 2009 Eurocopter EC120 B productionlist

The Airbus Helicopters EC120 B Colibri is a 5-seat light utility helicopter powered by a single Turbomeca Arrius 2F turbine engine. The EC 120 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 EC120 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. The airframes are made in China and the final assembly line of the EC120 is at the Eurocopter Marignane factory in France. Next to the final assembly of the EC120 in France, a number of helicopters were assembled in Australia and Brazil. 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. In 2006, Regourd Aviation in France obtained EASA certification for the modified EC120 "Voyager", an EC120 with auto-pilot, glass cockpit & integrated avionics. The ICAO Aircraft Type Designator with Wake Category used to classify aircraft types is EC20 for both the EC120 and HC120. Until 2014, more than 700 EC120 B helicopters have been delivered to 55 countries.

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.

On 14 June 2011, Eurocopter EC120 B c/n 1207 was registered ZS-RZZ in South Africa with R.J.Thomson Family Investments. On 15 March 2006, reservartion was made in the USA for registration N639LH, but the helicopter remained registered as ZS-RZZ in South Africa. Finally on 25 March 2011, this reservation for registration N639LH was cancelled. Despite the reservation as N369LH, on 20 September 2006, Eurocopter EC120 B ZS-RZZ was transferred and registered with Idada Trading 171. When registered with Idada Trading 171, the helicopter was seen operated as Vodacom Netcare 911 Surf Rescue. In March 2009, Eurocopter EC120 B Colibri ZS-RZZ was fresh painted and registered with Mistico Trading 62 (PTY) Ltd., Bryanston, South Africa, on 14 September 2009. EC120 B Colibri ZS-RZZ was operated in Mozambique (ferrying tourists between Vilanculous and the islands) until November, 2012. Eurocopter EC120 B ZS-RZZ underwent the 12 year inspection and was repainted, interior refurbished, and the avionics were updated. It took Eurocopter SA more than a year to get this all done. The helicopter is currently hangared at Grand Central Airport just north of Johannesburg, South Africa. Once permissions are complete and a hangar is built, it will reside at Blair Atholl Golf Estate just north of Lanseria Airport.

page last updated 09-01-2014
Photo Copyrigh Alan Robertson, South Africa

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