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MD Helicopters unveils MD6XX mock-up, MD969 changes

MD Helicopters will chase new military and civil helicopter orders with a newly-unveiled MD6XX in the 2.5t single-engine class and a re-branded and re-imagined modernisation of the light-twin MD902 Explorer called the MD969.

The Mesa, Arizona-based manufacturer revealed details of both development projects in its patriotic-themed display at the Heli-Expo convention, including the first glimpse of the MD6XX mock-up, which was shown with MD’s phoenix-style livery in an aeromedical configuration.

The mock-up revealed the familiar fuselage shape of the MD600N, but with several major twists. The most significant change was a four-bladed aft rotor, replacing the no tail rotor (NOTAR) anti-torque system. The MD6XX also will feature boosted flight controls, a Genesys-supplied glass cockpit, Rolls-Royce M250-C34E2 engine, composite fuselage panels, HTC-supplied rotor blades and resized stabilisers.

“It may look similar but everything is different,” says Lynn Tilton, founder of the Patriarch Partners hedge fund that owns MD Helicopters.

The redesigned MD6XX will be sold with a maximum take-off weight of nearly 2,500kg (5,500lb), with a 160kt maximum speed, 500nm range and 4h endurance, Lynn says. MD has a particular foreign military customer in mind for the MD6XX, but Tilton says she’s unwilling to complete the deal until she’s confident of the timeline for completing certification.

At the moment, MD’s executives have promised to deliver complete certification of the MD6XX by the end of 2018, but Tilton says the project could consume another year of testing.

Meanwhile, MD has revamped the make-over of the MD902 Explorer promised four years ago after growing impatient with Universal Avionics’ certification plan for the Insight flightdeck, Tilton says. The re-branded MD969 instead will complete certification in June with the Genesys system, she says. It will also feature a four-axis autopilot, upgraded Pratt & Whitney Canada PW206E engine.