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Airbus Helicopters AS350 B
Eurocopter EC120 B Colibri
Eurocopter EC130 B4
MD Helicopters MD-900
Belgian Police G-10 LX-HMS
G-16 MD Helicopters MD-902 c/n 900-00132 - Federale Politie / Police Fédérale - Groningen Airport Eelde in Holland - 11 October 2010 Groningen Airport Eelde (GRQ)

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 three MDHI MD-900 helicopters in service with the Dienst Luchtsteun Federale Politie / Service D'appui Aérien Police Fédérale at Melsbroek are c/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'. On 23 September 2010, the Belgian Council of Ministers has agreed the purchase of a secondhand MD Helicopters MD-902 helicopter for the Dienst Luchtsteun Federale Politie / Service D'appui Aérien Police Fédérale. As soon as this MD-902 Explorer has entered service with the Federale Politie / Police Fédérale, the three MDHI MD-900 helicopters will be modified into MDHI MD-902 helicopters.

The 2008-built MDHI MD-902 Explorer s/n 900-00132 was test flown as N40216. On 14 August 2009, the helicopter was temporarely registered OY-HMS with CASA Air A/S, Horsens, Denmark. On 15 October 2009, the OY-HMS was registered and on 14 June 2010 the registration of the OY-HMS changed back to temporarely registered. In September 2010, the MD-902 was sold to Belgian Government for use with the Federale Politie / Police Fédérale as G-16. On 11 October 2010, the G-16 was seen at Groningen Airport on delivery from Odense to Brussels-Melsbroek.
The ICAO Aircraft Type Designator for the MD Helicopter MD-900 and MD-902 Explorer is EXPL.

page last updated: 11-10-2022
Photo Copyright © Jack Poelstra, the Netherlands

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