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MD 600N

Hongdu MD Helicopters Company (China) was a joint venture created in January-February 2003 by RDM Holdings (60 per cent) and Hongdu Aviation Industries Group (40 per cent), with initial USD10 million investment by RDM. HMDH was to assemble MD 500E, 520N, 530F and 600N helicopters from US-supplied kits, the first of which were to be delivered in March 2003. The program of work under the contract in the first stage was assembling 2 MD600N helicopters, 2 MD520N helicopters and 1 MD530F helicopter by year-end [other reports state three MD 500s and one MD 600]. Initial commitments for about 30 helicopters were reported by that time. The goal was that within 5 years an annual capacity of 100 helicopters would be created.

In January 1999 Boeing announced the sale of the former MD light helicopter lines to MD Helicopters, a newly formed division of Netherlands based RDM Holdings. 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 MD Helicopters from RDM Holdings N.V. of the Netherlands. Patriarch Partners is a vertically integrated distressedprivate equity firm with robust in-house operational turn-around expertise. Hongdu Aviation Industries Group is a major Chinese aircraft manufacturer, not previously associated with the helicopter business.

The first locally assembled helicopter, an MD 600N, was shown at Zhuhai in November 2004, having apparently been completed only in the preceding month. Jiangxi Hongdu Aviation Industrial Shareholdings Co., Ltd, in cooperation with Hongdu Maidao Helicopters completed the final assembly and the assembly ceremony was held on 21 October 2004, Deputy Secretary of the Jiangxi provincial party Committee, Deputy Governor Wu xinxiong, province, city leaders and relevant departments to attend the ceremony.

The aircraft was to be used as a demonstrator, along with a 500E, 530F and 520N to be assembled over the following few months. MD Hongdu signed letters of intent at Zhuhai with its first two customers. A construction company tentatively agreed to take a 520N and a leisure project development company a 600N. By the time of the Shuhai show, MD Hongdu was no longer a joint venture company; instead Hongdu Aviation Industry had signed a subcontracting and assembly agreement with MD Hongdu, which acted as the original equipment manufacturer.

The MD-600N, built by MD Helicopter, is an eight passenger, light, utility helicopter. The MD-600N first flew in January of 1995 and entered production in April of 1995. Certification was received in May 1997 and deliveries to the first customer started the following month. The MD-600N is flown by one pilot and is able to carry 7 additional people. It has a maximum speed of 175 mph and a maximum range of 266 miles, with a maximum weight of 4,100 pounds/1860 kilograms.

Developed by McDonnell Douglas Corporation, MD600N helicopter falls under the category of light single-engine turbine helicopters and is characterized by nimble appearance, reliable performance, low operating cost as well as suitability for short-range flight touring and production-oriented flight. Its spacious cockpit, open control platform, super-large cabin windows and nearly 360░visual angel turn it into the preferred helicopter for private flying, aerial photography and flight touring. It's also applicable to flying activities for news report, transportation, aerial advertising and aerial reinforcement to law enforcement.

The MD-600N is powered by a FADEC (full authority digital engine control) equipped, Rolls Royce 250-C47M turboshaft engine rated at 600 SHP (shaft horsepower). It features a six bladed main rotor that has a diameter of 27ft 6in. Its able to effectively operate in hot, high conditions where increased density altitudes render other ships less effective.

The MD600N uses Boeing's patented NOTAR system which is quieter and safer than a conventional tail rotor. The NOTAR system replaces the tail rotor with a variable pitch fan. Its application of advanced NOTAR (NO Tail Rotor) system enables its noise output to be 34% less than other models and is able to avoid dangers caused by scrapes and impacts between the tail rotor and any obstacles during flying and taking off within narrow landforms, making it a member of the helicopter family with the safest and quietest characteristics.The NOTAR system is safer for personnel working around the helicopter during ground operations and is safer for the crew during flight operations. Tail rotor strikes are no longer a concern and NOTAR equipped helicopters operating with the U.S. Army typically place the entire tail boom in tree tops to better mask the helicopters presence. Additionally elimination of the tail rotor educes the amount of vibration on the components and airframe which reduces the maintenance required and decreases pilot and passenger fatigue. The NOTAR system is also very quiet and is favored by law enforcement.

The MD-600N can be used for a number of different missions. Typical ones include law enforcement, charter, tours, and corporate operations. The MD-600N initial launch customer was Airstar Helicopters, a Grand Canyon tour operator. Later deliveries include the U.S. Border Patrol which uses them for drug interdiction and border security, the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department and various other government and civil operators.v One each of MD 500E, 530F, 520N were said to be due for completion during 2004, but no evidence of these had emerged by the end of March 2008. While details are lacking, it appears that this venture started slow and petered out fast, producing the single helicopter shown at Zhuhai in November 2004.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 02:45:44 ZULU