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MDHI / Hughes 369/500
MD Helicopters MD-900
Belgian Police G-10 LX-HMS
Eurocopter EC135
PH-SHF MD Helicopters MD-900 c/n 900-00080 - "Lifeliner 4" - SZE-hospital in Emmen, Holland - 18 July 2003 helicopters in Emmen

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.

The 2000-built MDHI MD 900 s/n 900-00080 was testflown as N7008Q. On 22 January 2001, the Explorer was registered PH-SHF in the Netherlands with Luchtvaartmaatschappij Schreiner Airways BV in Leiden. On 4 September 2002, the PH-SHF was registered with Schreiner Northsea Helicopters BV, Den Helder, as operator and Capital Aviation Services BV, Hoofddorp, as owner. Schreiner operated the Explorer PH-SHF on behalf of the MMT. On 18 July 2003, MDHI MD 900 PH-SHF was photographed at the helipad of the Scheper Ziekenhuis Emmen, the Netherlands. The Explorer was operated in that period as "Lifeliner 4" of the MMT (Mobil Medical Team). The MMT "Lifeliner 4" was based at the helideck on the roof of the AZG (UMCG) in Groningen.  On 1 October 2003, Eurocopter EC-135P2 D-HSAN replaced the PH-SHF as "Lifeliner 4". With the introduction of the new ADAC Luftrettung GmbH helicopter the callsign of this MMT was changed into "Lifeliner Europe 4". The 4 EMS-helicopters in the Netherlands are:
  "Lifeliner 1" stationed at heliport Amsterdam;
  "Lifeliner 2" stationed at Rotterdam The Hague Airport;
  "Lifeliner 3" stationed at Volkel AFB near Nijmegen;
  "Lifeliner Europe 4"stationed at Groningen Airport Eelde.
In January 2005, Eurocopter EC135 T2 helicopters replaced the MBB Bo-105 and the MDHI MD-900 helicopters in service with the MMTs in the Netherlands. MDHI PH-SHF was sold in the UK and registration PH-SHF was cancelled on 7 June 2005. On 10 June 2005, the aircraft was registered G-SASH in the UK with the Police Aviation Services. On 29 August 2006, MDHI MD902 G-SASH was registered with Yorkshire Air Ambulance, Halifax in the UK. In 2016, the MD902 G-SASH and G-CEMS were replaced in service with Yorkshire Air Ambulance by two Airbus H145 helicopters and withdrawn from service. On 25 September 2017, MD902 Explorer G-SASH was registered with Heli Delta BV, Sint Agatha, Netherlands, as owner. On 8 December 2017, the G-SASH was re-registered G-HDBV with Heli Delta BV. On 20 April 2022, the G-HDBV was registered with Eastern Atlantic Helicopters, Shoreham Airport, and on 22 July 2022, with Flitwick Helicopters, Bedford. The status of this helicopter is not known: the EASA Airworthiness Review Certificate (ARC) Expiry date of the G-HDBV is given as 20 June 2018.
The ICAO Aircraft Type Designator for the MD Helicopters MD-900 and MD-902 Explorer is EXPL.

page last updated: 10-12-2022
Copyright © Jack Wolbrink, Emmen, the Netherlands

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