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G-10 MD Helicopters MD-900 c/n 900-00034 - Federale Politie / Police fédérale - Hasselt-Kiewit in Belgium - 15 August 2008 MBB BO.105 CBS-4 PH-RPZ

The MD Helicopters MD-900 is a twin-engine light utility helicopter that can accommodate up to 9 passengers. McDonnell Douglas Helicopters started in 1988 with the development of the MD-900 as the MDX, an entirely new design. The MDX design incorporated the NOTAR system, a carbon fibre fuselage and tail and an advanced five-bladed main rotor with composite blades. The NOTAR (NoTailRotor) system that was incorporated in the design dates back to late 1975 when Hughes engineers began initial concept development work. Hughes Helicopters became in 1984 a subsidiary of McDonnell Douglas, and was subsequently re-designated the McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Company. The first flight of the MD-900, powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW206B turboshaft engines, took place on 18 December 1992. The second prototype starting its tests on 17 September 1993 and the third on 16 December 1993. The first production MD-900 Explorer made its maiden flight on 3 August 1994. FAA certification for the MD 900 was granted on 2 December 1994 and the first delivery followed on 16 December 1994. With McDonnell Douglas' merger with Boeing in 1997 the MD 900 became a Boeing product. In a restructuring exercise for the new company it was decided to disposal of the civil helicopter business. On 16 February 1999, the new formed MD Helicopters Inc., an indirect subsidiary of the RDM Group of Joep van den Nieuwenhuijzen, the Netherlands, purchased the light helicopter operations from The Boeing Company, including the MD 900 Explorer. In 2004, the MD Helicopters Inc of Mesa, Arizona ran into turbulence when technical problems delayed the delivery of 13 helicopters to customers in Germany and the Netherlands. The US investment firm Patriarch Partners LLC bought in July 2005 a majority stake in MD Helicopters from the RDM Holdings N.V., and started revitalizing the company. By March 2022, the manufacturer filed for US Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for restructuration, to be acquired by a creditor consortium led by Bardin Hill Investment Partners and MBIA Insurance, providing around $60 million of financing as debtors. Starting with a substantial mid-2022 leadership overhaul and restructuring the company, from August 2022, MD Helicopters emgerged from bankruptcy.

Mid-90s, the SA.330 Puma helicopters in service with the Belgian Police Force had to be replaced by a twin-engined medium size helicopter. The aircraft had to be equipped with special observation equipment and cleared for night operations. After analyses of the available helicopters, the MD 900 Explorer came out as the most interesting choice for the Police. The Belgian Government signed a contract for delivery of three MD 900 helicopters. The first aircraft of the type was delivered at Brussels-Melsbroek on 21 January 1997, the second on 12 August 1997 and the third on 23 July 2001. The Belgian Police Explorers are fully IFR equipped and have specialised law enforcement equipment like a powerful searchlight. The 1996-built MDHI MD-900 Explorer c/n 900-00034 was test flown as N91960. On 1 July 1996, the helicopter was registered N91960 with First Security Bank NA Trustee, Salt Lake City, Utah, and on 6 October 1996, registration N91960 was cancelled as exported to Belgium. The aircraft was destined for the Rijkswacht / Gendarmerie Belgium and on 21 January 1997, the helicopter aircraft arrived on delivery at Brussels-Melsbroek as G-10 'OT-GIA'. On 11 February 1997, was the hand-over of the aircraft during an official ceremony held at Brussels-Melsbroek. In 2002, the Rijkswacht / Gendarmerie Belgium was renamed Federale Politie / Police fédérale. The MDHI MD-900 helicopters in service with the Dienst Luchtsteun Federale Politie / Service D'appui Aérien Police Fédérale at Melsbroek are s/n 900-00034 G-10 callsign 'OT-GIA'; s/n 900-00045 G-11 callsign 'OT-GIB' and s/n 900-00038 G-12 callsign 'OT-GIC'.

In September 2010, the Belgian Government signed a contract for delivery of a MDHI MD-902 helicopter. After this MD-902 Explorer, the G-16, entered service with the Dienst Luchtsteun Federale Politie / Service D'appui Aérien Police Fédérale, the three MDHI MD-900 helicopters were modified into MDHI MD-902 helicopters.
The ICAO Aircraft Type Designator for the MD Helicopters MD-900 and MD-902 Explorer is EXPL.

page last updated: 01-10-2022
Copyright © Jack Wolbrink, Emmen, the Netherlands

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