MD Helicopters MD Explorer

MD Helicopters MD Explorer
MD Explorer
One of 5 MD 900/902 of the Baden-Württemberg State Police
Role Light twin helicopter
Manufacturer McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Systems
MD Helicopters, Inc.
First flight 18 December 1992

The MD Helicopters MD Explorer is a light twin utility helicopter. Designed in the early 1990s by McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Systems, it is currently produced by MD Helicopters, Inc. There have been two models, the original MD 900, and its successor, the MD 902.


Design and development

In January 1989, McDonnell Douglas Helicopters officially launched the development of the Explorer, initially referred to as MDX. The Explorer was the first McDonnell Douglas helicopter to incorporate the NOTAR system from its initial design.[1] McDonnell Douglas partnered with Hawker de Havilland of Australia to manufacture the airframes. 10 prototypes were built with seven being used for ground tests. McDonnell Douglas Helicopters became a launch customer for Pratt & Whitney Canada's PW200 series of engines, with an exclusive agreement to power the first 128 Explorers with two PW206As.[2] Meanwhile, plans to offer the Turbomeca Arrius as an option were dropped.[1] The first flight of the Explorer took place on 18 December 1992, with ship #2 (N900MD). FAA certification for the Explorer was granted on 2 December 1994, with JAA certification following shortly after.

MD 900 (N900MH) Helicopter Noise Abatement Test

In September 1997, a range of improvements were introduced, including PW206E turboshafts with higher single engine inoperative ratings, revised engine air inlets, improved NOTAR inlet design and a more powerful stabiliser control system. Benefits include improved range and endurance and an increased maximum takeoff weight. This enhanced Explorer was unofficially designated the MD 902.

In September 2000, the Explorer has been delivered with the further improved PW207E turboshaft, with improved hot and high and one engine inoperative performance.[1]

One of the most advanced helicopters in its market segment, the MD Explorer features Boeing's unique NOTAR anti-torque system, with benefits including increased safety, far lower noise levels and performance and controllability enhancements.[1] Instead of an anti-torque tail rotor, a fan exhaust is directed out slots in the tail boom, using the Coandă effect for yaw control. Boeing retains the design rights to the NOTAR technology despite selling the former McDonnell Douglas civil helicopter line to MD Helicopters in early 1999. The Explorer also features an advanced bearingless five blade main rotor with composite blades, plus carbonfibre construction tail and fuselage.[1]

In August 2008, 30 MD Explorers operating in the United Kingdom were grounded, on the orders of McDonnell Douglas, following an incident involving a London air ambulance.[3]


MD 900 operated by the National Park Service, based at Grand Canyon National Park
An MD Explorer operated as an air ambulance by Calstar
MD 900 Explorer
Initial Production model, powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW206A (or PW206E or PW207E) turboshaft engines.
MD 901 Explorer
Civil utility transport model, powered by two Turbomeca Arrius turboshaft engines. None ordered.
MD 902
Marketing name for an enhanced version with Category A approval and powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW206E or PW207E.[4] Enhanced version has additional engine isolation features and changes to the Integrated Instrument Display System.[4] Older helicopters (except for the first seven built) can be modified to the enhanced version.[4]
MH-90 Enforcer
Armed version for the United States Coast Guard flown by the Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron from 1998 to 2000.
Combat Explorer
One demonstrator helicopter displayed at the 1995 Paris Air Show.[citation needed]


  • Federal Police[5]
  • Gendarmerie (Belgium) – Former operator
  • Noordzee Helikopters Vlaanderen[6] Operates 4 MD Explorer Units
  • Luxembourg Air Rescue[9]
 United Kingdom
 United States


Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 2003–2004[10]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1-2
  • Capacity: 6 Passengers
  • Payload: 2,565 lb internal or 3,000 lb slung load (1,163 kg or 1,361 kg respectively)
  • Length: 32 ft 4 in (9.85 m)
  • Rotor diameter: 33 ft 10 in (10.31 m)
  • Height: 12 ft 0 in (3.66 m)
  • Disc area: 899.0 sq ft (83.52 m²)
  • Empty weight: 3,375 lb (1,531)
  • Max takeoff weight: 6,250 lb (2,835 kg) (internal load), 6,900 lb (3,129 kg) (slung load)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney Canada PW206E turboshaft, 550 shp (410 kW) (continuous) each


  • Never exceed speed: 140 knots (161 mph, 259 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 134 knots (154 mph, 248 km/h) at sea level (max cruise)
  • Range: 293 nmi (337 mi, 542 km) at 5,000 ft (1,525 m)
  • Endurance: 3 hr 12 min
  • Service ceiling: 17,500 ft (5,335 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,000 ft/min (5.1 m/s)
  • Hover ceiling: 11,000 ft (3,350 m) (In ground effect, International Standard Atmosphere)

See also

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists


  1. ^ a b c d e Frawley, Gerard: The International Directory of Civil Aircraft, 2003-2004, page 156. Aerospace Publications Pty Ltd, 2003. ISBN 1-875671-58-7
  2. ^ Warwick, Graham. "Rotorcraft Power: PW206A described.". Flight International. periodical. 13-19 July 1994. Retrieved on 11 October 2009.
  3. ^ Safety scare grounds helicopters, BBC News article retrieved 11 August 2008
  4. ^ a b c Federal Aviation Administration Type Certificate Data Sheet H19NM
  5. ^ Federale Politie – Police fédérale
  6. ^ Company
  7. ^ Portal der Polizei Niedersachsen
  8. ^ Luftrettung, Nottallrettung, Hubschrauberrettung, Ambulanzbfluge - DFR Luftrettung
  9. ^ Luxembourg Air Rescue
  10. ^ Jackson 2003, pp. 679–680.
  • Jackson, Paul. Jane's All The World's Aircraft 2003–2004. Coulsdon, UK: Jane's Information Group, 2003. ISBN 0 7106 2537 5.

External links

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