The Eurocopter 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
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. In 2006, Regourd Aviation in France
obtained EASA certification for the modified EC120 "Voyager", an EC120 with auto-pilot,
glass cockpit & integrated avionics. Until 2013, more than 700 EC120 B helicopters
have been delivered to 55 countries.
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. Colibri ZS-RZZ was operated in Mozambique (ferrying tourists between Vilanculous
and the islands) until November, 2012.