The MBB / Kawasaki BK.117 is a ten-seat multi-mission medium-weight class, twin-engine helicopter. Development of the
BK117 started in 1977 as a co production between MBB from Germany and Kawasaki Heavy Industries from Japan. The
first of four prototypes, two built by MBB in Donauwörth and two by Kawasaki in Gifu, flew in Germany on 13 June 1979.
The first prototype built in Japan flew on 10 August 1979. The first production aircraft (built by KHI in Japan)
flew in December 1981, and first deliveries took place early in 1983. Initial production was of the BK 117 A1, while the
BK 117 A3 with higher max takeoff weight and enlarged tail rotor with twisted blades was certificated in March 1985.
The BK 117 A4 with increased performance and improved tail rotor head was introduced in 1987. When the helicopter
divisions of MBB from Germany and Aerospatiale from France merged in January 1992 to form the Eurocopter
Group, the MBB BK.117 program was transferred as well. In 2002, the assembly line for the Eurocopter BK 117 C-1 twin
helicopter was transferred from its German production facility in Donauwörth to Trento in Italy. Eurocopter uses the
production facilities in Donauwörth for the EC 145 multi-role helicopter. This EC 145 flew first in 1999 and has been
jointly developed by Eurocopter and Kawasaki Heavy Industries of Japan. The EC 145 is designated the BK 117 C-2 in Japan.
Over 400 Eurocopter / Kawasaki BK 117 helicopters in different versions were built, including production under licence
by IPTN in Indonesia and Avionline in Italy.
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.
On 10 November 1995, the MBB BK.117B-2 c/n 7251 was registered D-HITZ. However registered in Germany, MBB BK.117B-2 D-HITZ entered service
as an EMS-helicopter with DRF-partner Helitalia SpA in Italy. On 16 December 1997, the 1995-built helicopter was re-registered I-HBHC with Eligestione as owner
and Team DRF partner Helitalia SpA, Firence, as operator. In service with Helitalia SpA, ownership
of the helicopter changed to VR-Leasing AG. On 29 November 2006,
registration I-HBHC was cancelled as exported to Germany, and was
registered D-HJJJ with VR-Leasing AG as owner and HSD Hubschrauber
Sonder Dienst Flugbetriebs as operator. In January 2007, the MBB
BK.117B-2 D-HJJJ entered service with Team DRF / HSD Hubschrauber Sonder
Dienst Flugbetriebs. Starting from 23 September 2008,
the DRF-Deutsche Rettungsflugwacht e.V. introduced a new name and logo.
From that day, the former DRF consists of three parts: a non-profit
sponsored association, a foundation under public law and a non-profit
corporation which is the operational unit. The operational work of the
DRF continued as before. The German air rescue companies HSD-Hubschauber
Sonder Dienst Flugbetriebs and HDM Luftrettung also appeared under the
name of DRF Luftrettung starting from 23 September 2008. The previous
branding of “Air Rescue Alliance TEAM DRF” is no longer used. In November 2011, DRF ordered 25 EC145 T2 helicopters
as replacement for the MBB BK117's in service for delivery from December
2013 through 2022.
In January 2019, DRF Luftrettung took over all shares of NHC-Northern HeliCopter at Emden. Although DRF indicated that the change in
ownership would not impact the autonomy of NHC and its service portfolio, the former DRF' MBB BK.117B-2 D-HJJJ was added to the NHC fleet in December 2019,
in February 2020 followed by MBB BK.117B-2 D-HDRH. Both MBB BK.117B-2 helicopters were phased out at DRF after the arrival of the new EC145 T2 helicopters.
On 19 April 2023, MBB BK.117B-2 D-HJJJ was seen at Flugplatz Leer-Papenburg in service as Air Ambulance with NHC-Northern HeliCopter.