Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has stopped selling the MH2000 civil helicopter due to lack of interest from potential operators of the rotorcraft.

A Mitsubishi source confirms the manufacturer is no longer offering the 4.5t multirole aircraft, although it has refrained from publicly announcing the suspension of the programme. He says "the market is not so good" and Mitsubishi "recognises there is room to improve the technology of the helicopter".

The MH2000 programme was marred by a crash of a demonstration aircraft in 2000 and problems with the indigenously developed rotor blade. The source says MHI is still working to improve the vibration suppression, rotor blade and engine, but says this activity is limited because funds are not available.

The last MH2000 was delivered in 2003 and three aircraft are operating, including two in a sightseeing role in Tokyo and one as a testbed at a government laboratory. The aircraft first flew in 1996 and won Japanese certification in 1999.

The indefinite end of the MH2000 leaves the Kawasaki BK117 as the only civil helicopter in production in Japan. Kawasaki has sold about 150 BK117s, but only five BK117 C-2s since this newer version was certificated in 2001.

Both models were co-developed by Kawasaki and Eurocopter, which sells the same aircraft outside Asia as the EC145. A Kawasaki source says an additional upgrade to a digitally controlled engine is now under consideration with Eurocopter.

Source: Flight International