The Eurocopter EC120 Colibri (Hummingbird) is a five-seat, single-engine, light utility helicopter currently produced by Airbus Helicopters. The aircraft is capable of transporting up to 4 passengers.
The EC120 Colibri has its origins in the P120, a proposal by French helicopter manufacturer Aérospatiale that was intended to replace both their Aérospatiale Gazelle and Aérospatiale SA 315B Lama single engine helicopters.
On 20 October 1992, a contract for the joint development contract of the new helicopter was signed by the three principle partners of the project.
On 9 June 1995, the first prototype EC120 Colibri conducted its maiden flight. By February 1996, the prototype had accumulated 60 flight hours, a second prototype joined the test program later that year. In February 1997, the EC120 Colibri was formally launched and by June 1997, more than 50 orders had been received for the type. By October 1998, more than 100 orders had been received for the type, leading Eurocopter to increase the production rate from four helicopters per month to six. In 2002, Eurocopter was in the process of establishing a second assembly line for the EC120 at Australian Aerospace’s facility in Brisbane, Australia.
In September 2003, Eurocopter and China Aviation Industry Corporation II (AVIC II) expanded their partnership agreement to include a co-production arrangement with AVIC II-subsidiary Harbin Aircraft Industry Group (HAIG).On 11 June 2004, a final production agreement was signed; under the agreement, CATIA and HAIG received exclusive market rights in China, and Eurocopter agreed to stop selling French-built EC120s in mainland China. In June 2014, the People’s Liberation Army of China became the launch customer for the Harbin-produced HC120, reportedly placing an order for eight of the type with options for fifty more.
On 30 November 2017 Airbus Helicopters formally announced the end of the H120 program citing low delivery numbers. Only five H120s were delivered in 2016 compared to 63 Robinson R-66s. Airbus stated they are moving away from the lower end of the market spectrum and those helicopters are not as sophisticated as their traditional product line.
Aircraft of similar role, configuration and era are: Bell 206, Bell 407, Bell 505 Jet Ranger X, Eurocopter AS350 Écureuil, MD Helicopters MD 500, PZL SW-4, Robinson R66.