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MBB Bölkow BO.105
MBB BK.117
Eurocopter EC145
D-HDRH MBB BK.117B-2 c/n 7199 - NHC - AIR AMBULANCE - Flugplatz Leer-Papenburg in Germany - 1 February 2024 Flugplatz Leer-Papenburg (EDWF)

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.

The 1989-built MBB BK.117B-1 s/n 7199 was tested with the MBB test registration D-HIMP. In 1989, the MBB BK.117B-1 was registered N54114 in the USA with MBB Helicopter Corp. In 1990, registration N54114 was cancelled and registration D-HIMP was restored. On 9 July 1990, the MBB BK.117B-1 was registered I-BKBO with Helitalia SpA in Florence, Italy. The MBB BK.117B-1 I-BKBO was operated in Italy as an EMS-helicopter with DRF-partner Helitalia. On 27 August 2002, registration I-BKBO was cancelled as exported to Germany. Back in Germany, the MBB BK.117B-1 was upgraded into a BK.117B-2. On 29 October 2002, the BK.117B-2 was registered D-HDRH in Germany with DRF - Deutsche Rettungsflugwacht. On 1 August 2003, the D-HDRH was leased to Helitalia. On 9 February 2004, the MBB BK.117B-2 D-HJJJ was leased to ARA - Air Rescue Austria, Fresach, Austria. In May 2004, the D-HDRH returned in service with DRF. In October 2005, the D-HDRH was leased again for some months to ARA in Austria. In January 2006, the D-HDRH was seen back in service with DRF. Starting from 23 September 2008, 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.
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 1 February 2024, MBB BK.117B-2 D-HDRH was seen at Flugplatz Leer-Papenburg (EDWF) in service as Air Ambulance with NHC-Northern HeliCopter.
The ICAO Aircraft Type Designator for the MBB BK.117B-1 is BK117.

page last updated: 16-05-2021
Copyright © Jack Wolbrink, Emmen, the Netherlands

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