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Eurocopter EC 120
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The Eurocopter EC 120 was developed in the early 1990's from a technology demonstrator helicopter version. Eurocopter's purpose for its development was to compete in the light utility helicopter market. The Eurocopter EC 120 is produced as a joint venture between Eurocopter, CATIC/HAMC, China, and Singapore Technologies Aerospace.
The first Eurocopter EC 120 prototypes were produced in France. By 1997 they had accumulated over 250 test hours and were certified the same year.
The Eurocopter EC 120 has become popular around the world. Among its uses are blaze suppression when equipped with a Bambi bucket, for law enforcement, general transport, news coverage, emergency medical services, and moving loads in tight places using its sling.
Operators of the Eurocopter EC 120 appreciate its low operating costs and versatility. The all glass cockpit features twin digital displays for monitoring helicopter engine and mechanical functions.
The fuselage features Kevlar and carbon fiber reinforced materials for low weight and minimal maintenance. It has relatively large cabin space, a flat deck, and loads easily through side sliding doors and a rear clam shell type hatch.
The Eurocopter EC 120 has all composite three bladed rotors connect to a one piece bearing-less rotor head driven by a single engine for a smooth ride and to maximize fuel economy. The rotor head is designed to last a minimum of 3,000 operating hours. The asymmetrically placed blades in the fenstron tail rotor of the Eurocopter EC 120 keep overall noise at a low level.
The U.S. government has ordered 80 Eurocopter EC 120 helicopters for use in border patrol and homeland security operations. The French Army uses the Eurocopter EC 120 to train its pilots before graduating to pilot larger helicopters.
Some 160 Eurocopter EC 120 helicopters have been produced world-wide to date.