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McDonnell-Douglas Explorer / MD900

An international helicopter industry advisory board guided the design and development of the McDonnell-Douglas (formerly Hughes Helicopters, now a division of Boeing) Explorer with an objective to produce a multipurpose twin-engine helicopter that would set new standards in performance, affordability, dependability and safety.

The MD Explorer was initially certified under FAA Part 27 in December 1994, and was certified at the time of the competition by FAA and JAA for day/night VFR and single pilot IFR with full Category A design standards to JAR-OPS 3 performance Class I.

Powered by two Pratt and Whitney Canada PW207E engines, the MD Explorer features a fully articulated main rotor system, bearingless composite flexbeams and rotor hub. Anti-torque control is provided by the patented NOTARTM system that reduces pilot workload and external noise levels, and significantly improves safety in confined areas and on offshore platforms.

The eight-place MD Explorer cabin was at the time the largest in the light twin class and was accessed through two 52 inch (1.32m) sliding cabin doors and a large baggage compartment. Energy absorbing, stroking cabin seats meet stringent FAR Part 27.562 requirements up to 30g at 30 feet per second. The large cabin was advertised as making the MD Explorer ideally suited for rapid role change from an Offshore/Onshore eight-place passenger transport to Emergency Medical Services or Law Enforcement missions. Large selections of optional equipment had been fully qualified to meet various operational requirements. A heavy-duty cargo hook permited 3,000-pound (1360-KG) external load operations.

MD Explorer safety and maintainability were enhanced by built-in HIRF and lightning strike protection, built-in maintenance steps and platforms, and a composite airframe that was resistant to corrosion in a hostile marine environment.

In September 2005 Patriarch Partners LLC, a New York and Charlotte, NC, firm with more than $4.5 billion in assets, bought a majority stake in McDonnell-Douglas Helicopters from RDM Holdings Nevada of the Netherlands.

An immediate challenge was to compete for the $3 billion US Army order for a new Light Utility Helicopter to replace Vietnam-era UH-1 helicopters. McDonnell-Douglas was joining with Lockheed Martin to offer a slightly modified version of the Explorer.




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