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29th of July 1996

Mitsubishi aircraft are not that well known in Europe, a possible exception might be the MU-2 a fast twin turboprop. That Mitsubishi also builds helicopters might even be less known. It was on this day in aviation history that the Mitsubishi MH2000 helicopter made its first flight.

The 7 to 12 seat helicopter was the first Japanese helicopter developed and manufactured in Japan. The program for this multi-role helicopter was launched in 1995 aiming for a helicopter that could not only be used for business and passenger transport but also in (para)military and emergency medical services. This challenged the design team to come up with an (obviously) safe and economic helicopter with a low noise profile.

4 development aircraft were built, the first one would make its first flight on this day in aviation history in 1996, followed by a second flying development aircraft later that year. The other two airframes would be used for ground testing. Besides the airframe also the aircraft powerplant would be Japanese, two Mitsubishi MG5-100 turboshaft engines each with maximum take-off power of 600kW (800shp, were powering the aircraft.

The first production aircraft was delivered to its operator in October 2000. A month later the program had a huge setback when one of the flying development aircraft crashed due to tail rotor blade failure, killing the pilot. This led to the temporary withdrawal of the aircraft type certificate. Although an improved tail rotor was designed and operating aircraft were modified the program never fully recovered and Mitsubishi stopped selling the helicopter in September 2004.

General aircraft characteristics

  • Crew: 1 or 2

  • Capacity: passengers: 6-12, 2,000 kg (4,409 lb) payload

  • Length: 12.2 m (40 ft 0 in) 14 m (46 ft) rotors turning

  • Width: 3.2 m (10 ft 6 in) (fuselage)

  • Height: 4.1 m (13 ft 5 in)

  • Empty weight: 2,500 kg (5,512 lb)

  • Max takeoff weight: 4,500 kg (9,921 lb)

  • Powerplant: 2 × Mitsubishi MG5-110 turboshaft, 597 kW (801 hp) each

  • Main rotor diameter: 12.2 m (40 ft 0 in)

  • Cruise speed: 250 km/h (160 mph, 130 kn)

  • Never exceed speed: 278 km/h (173 mph, 150 kn)

  • Range: 777 km (483 mi, 420 nm)

  • Endurance: 4 hours

  • IGE max hovering altitude @ MTOW: 2,700 m (8,858 ft)

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