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9th of June 1995

On this day, 26 years ago, the single-engine Eurocopter EC120 Colibri made its first flight. (Colibri is French for Hummingbird). Initially identified as the P120L the aircraft would be marketed as the EC120 Colibri. The development was an international effort with several companies working together at the Eurocopter offices at Marignane, Sout East France, they were:

Two production type designations) where used,

  • EC120B Colibri (standard designation) assembled by Eurocopter in France and Australia.

  • HC120, Chinese built variant of the EC120B, build by HAMC in northern China.

The official launch of the program that led to the EC120 was on the 15th of February 1990. After several adjustments to the program, the final assembly of the prototypes started early in 1995, With the first prototype (F-WWPA) getting airborne for the first time 26 years ago today. A second prototype (F-WWPD) joined the test flight program on the 17th of July 1996. JAR certification of the EC120 was achieved on the 16th of June 1997, followed by FAA certification on the 22nd of January 1998. One day later the first production EC120 was delivered to the Japanese distributor Nosaki Sangyo in Osaka.

The 5 seat aircraft can be used in multiple roles, ranging from passenger-carrying, off-shore transport, medical transport, flight training to (para) military use.

An odd one EC120 was developed/build around 2015 as part of the Green Rotorcraft European Clean Sky program, which started in 2011. An H120 technology demonstrator was equipped with an HIPE AE440 high-compression aircraft diesel engine instead of the Turbomeca TM 318 Arrius 2F Turboshaft engine. This aircraft first flew on the 6th of November 2015. The 4.6 litres V8 liquid-cooled engine (with cylinder banks at a 90-degree angle) used an 1800 bar (26000 psi) common rail injection system. The purpose of this technology demonstrator was to reduce emissions, increase fuel efficiency (with fuel consumption down by 42% compared to the "original" engine), increased range (nearly doubled) and better hot and high performance. Ec120B specifications and performance figures: Crew: 1

Capacity: 4 pax / 755 kg (1,664 lb) payload (700 kg (1,543 lb) max slung load)

Length: 11.52 m (37 ft 10 in) overall, 9.6 m (31 ft) fuselage

Height: 3.4 m (11 ft 2 in)

Empty weight: 960 kg (2,116 lb)

Max takeoff weight: 1,715 kg (3,781 lb) internal load, 1,800 kg (3,968 lb) external load

Fuel capacity: 416 l (110 US gal; 92 imp gal) in two tanks

Powerplant: 1 × Turbomeca TM 319 Arrius 2F turboshaft, 376 kW (504 hp) for take-off

335 kW (449 hp) max continuous

Main rotor diameter: 10.0 m (32 ft 10 in)

Main rotor area: 78.54 m2 (845.4 sq ft)

Cruise speed: 226 km/h (140 mph, 122 kn) max, 191 km/h (119 mph; 103 kn) econ

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

Range: 727 km (452 mi, 393 nmi) no reserves

Endurance: 4 hours 32 minutes

Service ceiling: 5,180 m (16,990 ft)

Hover ceiling IGE: 2,820 m (9,252 ft)

Hover ceiling OGE: 2,320 m (7,612 ft)

Rate of climb: 6.1 m/s (1,200 ft/min)

Disk loading: 21.8 kg/m2 (4.5 lb/sq ft) internal load, 22.9 kg/m2 (5 lb/sq ft) external load

Power/mass: 0.19 kW/kg (0.12 hp/lb) internal load, 0.1835 kg (0 lb) external load

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