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EC120 B Colibri
D-HKDV Airbus Helicopters EC120 B Colibri c/n 1397 - Wilhelm Niemann GmbH - Melle airfield in Germany - 15 July 2012 Flugplatz Melle (EDXG)

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. In 2006, Regourd Aviation in France obtained EASA certification for the modified EC120 "Voyager", an EC120 with auto-pilot, glass cockpit & integrated avionics. On 6 November 2015, Airbus Helicopters started flight tests with the H120 demonstrator F-WMXC powered by a cleaner, more efficient 4.6-liter high-compression diesel engine in place of the Turbomeca Arrius 2F turboshaft. These test flights were part of the European Clean Sky initiative’s Green Rotorcraft Integrated Technology Demonstrator (ITD) program that started in 2011. In addition to Airbus Helicopters, the project involved TEOS Powertrain Engineering and Austro Engine. Since March 2015, Airbus Helicopters uses “H120” as marketing designation for the EC120 B helicopters. Serial production of the Airbus Helicopters H120, originally the Eurocopter EC120 B, has officially ended. The last H120 helicopter on order was delivered in September 2017. Over 700 single-engine H120 Colibris have been delivered in more than 50 countries with more than 400 operators. The decision to stop production of the H120 was the result of Airbus Helicopters’ strategy to focus on markets where high-end technologies bring the most value to customers. The company therefore concentrate on further developing its offer in the intermediate single-engine segment with the H125 and H130 through continuous improvements of these two best-seller types.
In 2023 Airbus Helicopters launched new upgrades for the H120 such as new avionics, skidshoes and free Halon fire extinguishers.
The ICAO Aircraft Type Designator for both the EC120 or H120 and the HC120 is EC20.

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.

In February 2005, Eurocopter France was permitted to fly Eurocopter EC120 B s/n 1397 with test registration F-WWXK. Until March 2005, Eurocopter France re-registered the airframe for export as F-WWPM. On 15 March 2005, the 2005-built helicopter was registered N526AG in the USA. On 2 June 2006, Eurocopter EC120 B N526AG was registered with Southern Aircraft Consultancy Inc Trustee, UK. A trust is an Anglo-Saxon legal. These Trustee's are "Insured fiduciaries". Legally there is no owner, but the Trustee became the owner. This construction is often used for enabling non-US Citizens to obtain "N" registration of aircraft with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for aircraft operating principally outside the United States. Eurocopter EC120 B Colibri N526AG was operated by the beneficial owner in Ireland. On 14 August 2006, registration N313PM was reserved but not taken up. On 5 March 2012, registration N526AG was cancelled as exported to Germany. On 9 March 2010, the helicopter was permitted to fly with registration D-HKDV and on 26 July 2010, the EC120 B was registered D-HKDV with Wilhelm Niemann GmbH, Melle, Germany.
On 26 August 2011, Eurocopter EC120 B Colibri D-HKDV was amoung the helicopters of a private fly-in at the Hotel Weißer Bär in Mühlheim an der Mosel, Germany. The fly-in turned into a disaster as the tail end of storm "Bert" brought tennis-ball size hailstones, causing extensive damage to all 18 helicopters parked in the grounds of Hotel Weisser Bär. Eurocopter EC120 B Colibri D-HKDV was rebuilt in very good condition since, as can be seen on the photograph taken by Frank Gebert at Flugplatz Melle on 15 July 2012.

page last updated: 12-12-2023
Photo Copyrigh Frank Gebert / Wilhelm Niemann GmbH, Melle, Germany

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