Eurocopter EC120 Colibri Hummingbird


The EC120 Colibri (also known as Hummingbird) is a light, single-engined helicopter developed by an industrial partnership comprising Eurocopter, the China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC) and Singapore Technologies Aerospace.

The maiden flight of the first production EC120 helicopter was successfully completed in 1997. The launch customer was Nozaki Sangyo in Osaka, Japan. The 500th EC120 helicopter was delivered, to the German Ministry of the Interior, in June 2007.

The EC120 has been ordered by more than a hundred customers in over 30 countries. The helicopter is in full-scale production with about two a week being completed and delivered. 73 EC120 aircraft were ordered in 2007.

In October 2004, the US Department of Homeland Security placed an order for 55 EC120 aircraft to be used for border patrol.

The helicopters form part of the Light Sign Cutter fleet of law enforcement equipped single-engine light observation helicopters. The order for the first ten helicopters was placed in February 2006 and the first was delivered in July 2006.

The helicopter EC120 has two variants namely EC120B and HC120. The HC120 is a Chinese-built variant.

In November 2005, the EC120B was selected as the training helicopter platform for the rotary wing course (RWC) programme in Singapore. Up to ten helicopters were required. The first order for six helicopters was placed in August 2006. Five helicopters have been delivered to Singapore Technologies Aerospace Ltd (STAero) for flight training of Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) pilots and they entered service in January 2007.

In January 2008, 36 EC120 helicopters were ordered for the French EAALAT army aviation school, based in Dax, France. The French EAALAT received three EC120 as a part of first delivery in October 2009. The helicopters are for the initial training of pilots in the army, navy, air force and police.

Eurocopter development and manufacturing

The joint EC120 design team is based in the Eurocopter development and manufacturing centre at Marignane in France. Eurocopter carries out the final assembly, testing and certification and is also responsible for the manufacture of the seats, rotor systems and the motor transmission.

Singapore Technologies manufactures the cockpit instrument panel, the tailboom, fins and the cabin doors. The Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation of CATIC supplies the cabin, landing gear and the fuel system. An agreement for local assembly of the EC120 (designated HC120 for the Chinese market) was signed by the partnership companies in November 2003. The Chinese Army was the launch customer, with an order for eight HC120 plus 50 options. The helicopter entered service with the army in 2005.

The helicopter is very quiet with an external noise level at almost 7dB under the limit specified in current ICAO legislation. The cabin can be configured for the pilot and up to four passengers and can be used for corporate or VIP transport, medical evacuation, training, as a utility helicopter, or for a range of police or federal operations.

The helicopter's 10m-diameter, three-bladed Spheriflex main rotor rotates clockwise. The main rotor blades are of impact and corrosion resistant composite construction. The 0.75m-diameter fenestron tail rotor has eight asymmetric composite blades.

"The helicopter is very quiet with an external noise level at almost 7dB under the specified limit."

The fixed skid landing gear incorporates the full width passenger and crew boarding step. Optional equipment offered for the EC120 includes: air conditioning, emergency flotation gear, radio-navigation equipment, sand filters, electrically controlled mirror, sling, searchlight with variable cockpit-controlled elevation and azimuth to supplement the existing nose-mounted searchlight on the basic aircraft, 1.5m-long skis for taking off and landing on snow-covered ground, and a single windshield wiper system with one motor and two wipers (removable as required).

EC120 cockpit

The cockpit is configured for single pilot operation under visual flight rules (VFR). Dual controls and dual VFR instrumentation are fitted optionally and the helicopter can be fully configured for training. The training helicopter version is operational and 15 EC120 are in service with the Spanish Air Force.

The helicopter is equipped with a fully duplex vehicle and engine multifunction display (VEMD). The modular construction of the VEMD allows the system to be easily maintained. The liquid crystal display functions in three modes - configuration mode, maintenance mode and operational mode. The configuration mode allows the integration of optional equipment in the VEMD display. The ground crew can use the maintenance mode to display flight reports, an overlift summary report and avionics system failure report page.

The pilot uses the operational mode during flight to view the engine power and weight performance and also to display the engine and aircraft main parameters, including true heading (T4), gas generator rpm (NG), torque, oil pressure, fuel quantity, outside air temperature (OAT) and the generator and battery voltage and current.

Adjustable configuration cabin

The cabin has a floor area of 3m². The cabin can be easily and rapidly changed for different operations. The pilot, co-pilot and passengers have crashworthy seats conforming to FAR Part 27 and rated to withstand vertical and horizontal deceleration of 30g and 18g.

"The EC120 Colibri's cabin can be easily and rapidly changed for different operations."

The 0.8m³ luggage compartment, installed beneath the engine and at the same level as the cabin floor, is able to contain up to five large suitcases and can be accessed either through the passenger cabin or by the rear doors or side door. The cabin area and luggage compartment can be combined to provide 3m³ of available cargo space allowing transportation of bulky loads.

The unobstructed cabin and flat floor with wide doors make loading and unloading quick and easy.

Turbomeca TM 319 Arrius 2F two-module engine

The helicopter is powered by the Turbomeca TM 319 Arrius 2F two-module engine, rated at 335kW continuous power and fitted with FADEC (full authority digital electronic control). The two crashworthy tanks have a fuel capacity of 416l which gives a range of 731km and flight endurance of four hours and ten minutes.

Performance

The maximum speed of EC120 is 278km/h. The cruise speed is 226km/h and rate of climb is 396m/min. The helicopter's service ceiling and range are 5,190m and 730km respectively.