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MD Helicopters MD-900
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D-HMDX MD Helicopters MD-900 c/n 900-00036 - Air Lloyd 'CHARM' - Flugplatz Stadtlohn in Germany - 29 September 2023 Flugplatz Stadtlohn (EDLS)

The MD Helicopters MD-900 is a twin-engine light utility helicopter that can accommodate up to 9 passengers. McDonnell Douglas Helicopters started in 1988 with the development of the MD-900 as the MDX, an entirely new design. The MDX design incorporated the NOTAR system, a carbon fibre fuselage and tail and an advanced five-bladed main rotor with composite blades. The NOTAR (NoTailRotor) system that was incorporated in the design dates back to late 1975 when Hughes engineers began initial concept development work. Hughes Helicopters became in 1984 a subsidiary of McDonnell Douglas, and was subsequently re-designated the McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Company. The first flight of the MD-900, powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW206B turboshaft engines, took place on 18 December 1992. The second prototype starting its tests on 17 September 1993 and the third on 16 December 1993. The first production MD-900 Explorer made its maiden flight on 3 August 1994. FAA certification for the MD 900 was granted on 2 December 1994 and the first delivery followed on 16 December 1994. With McDonnell Douglas' merger with Boeing in 1997 the MD 900 became a Boeing product. In a restructuring exercise for the new company it was decided to disposal of the civil helicopter business. On 16 February 1999, the new formed MD Helicopters Inc., an indirect subsidiary of the RDM Group of Joep van den Nieuwenhuijzen, the Netherlands, purchased the light helicopter operations from The Boeing Company, including the MD 900 Explorer. In 2004, the MD Helicopters Inc of Mesa, Arizona ran into turbulence when technical problems delayed the delivery of 13 helicopters to customers in Germany and the Netherlands. The US investment firm Patriarch Partners LLC bought in July 2005 a majority stake in MD Helicopters from the RDM Holdings N.V., and started revitalizing the company. By March 2022, the manufacturer filed for US Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for restructuration, to be acquired by a creditor consortium led by Bardin Hill Investment Partners and MBIA Insurance, providing around $60 million of financing as debtors. Starting with a substantial mid-2022 leadership overhaul and restructuring the company, from August 2022, MD Helicopters emgerged from bankruptcy.

In June 1996, the 1996-built MDHI MD-900 Explorer s/n 900-00036 was registered N9198Y with McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Company, Mesa, Arizona. On 20 December 1996, registration N9198Y was cancelled as exported to Germany. On 12 January 1997, the aircraft was registered D-HMDX with AIR LLOYD Deutsche Helicopter Flugservice GmbH as owner and in April 1997, MD-900 D-HMDX entered service as ITH 'Christoph Hansa' with ADAC Luftrettung as operator and based at the BG Unfallkrankenhauses Hamburg-Boberg heliport. In April 2004, MD-900 D-HMDX was returned to AIR LLOYD Deutsche Helicopter Flugservice at Bonn-Hangelar, where the helicopter was repainted and prepared for the next lessor HSD - Hubschrauber Sonder Dienst / H S D Team DRF. The official commissioning of the former ADAC machine and the acquisition of the MD-900 D-HMDX and its sistership D-HITH into the HSD inventory took place on 8 October 2004 in Halle-Oppin. On 31 December 2009, MD-900 D-HDMX was withdrawn from service by H S D Team DRF: on 1 January 2010, the new EU rules for helicopters in the ambulance and rescue operations (HEMS) took effect, and the MD Helicopters MD-900 could no longer be used as HEMS. The MD-900 D-HMDX was returned to AIR LLOYD Deutsche Helicopter Flugservice. On 1 February 2020, the company name was chanded to Air Lloyd Flight Services GmbH. Over the years, MD-900 D-HMDX was stored several times at Kassel-Calden and / or Bonn-Hangelar. In 2020, the helicopter was prepared to be operated as 'CHARM' helicopter. Early 2021, MD Helicopters MD-900 D-HMDX replaced MBB Bo.105CBS-5 D-HBWH as platform for the LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) laser system CHARM for inspecting natural gas pipelines for leaks. CHARM stands for CH4 Airborne Remote Monitoring.
On 29 September 2023, MD Helicopters MD-900 D-HMDX, the Air Lloyd 'CHARM' helicopter, was seen at Verkehrslandeplatz Stadtlohn-Vreden (EDLS).
The ICAO Aircraft Type Designator for the MD Helicopters MD-900 and MD-902 Explorer is EXPL.

page last updated: 11-10-2023
Copyright © Jack Wolbrink, Emmen, the Netherlands

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