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SUPERYACHT #10
Autumn 2006

Article selected from our quarterly magazine dedicated to the largest and most luxurious boats with information, interviews, technical articles, images and yachting news


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Article by
Stefano Ruia


EC 120 B "COLIBRI"

Here we are again discussing another flying tender ever increasingly appreciated by superyacht owners. On this occasion we are going to examine a European product particularly designed with comfort in mind. We are referring to the 120B by Eurocopter called the "Colibri".

This light rotor wing aircraft (1.715 kilos maximum take off weight) can carry 4 passengers comfortably plus the pilot. In the "dual controls" version the second front seat is reserved for the co-pilot and the passengers hence become only three. Loading weight in the standard version is 965 kilos.

The Colibri's engine comprises a Turbomeca Arrius 2F single turbine of 355 kW ( continuous power) - 376 kW (maximum power on take-off). The cruising speed fully laden varies between 160 and 190 km/h, according to flying altitude, whereas with a lighter load it can top 200km/h. Rising speed at sea level also varies ranging between 6 and 8,5 m/s the operational ceiling being 6.000 metres from sea level. With a consumption rate of between 50 and 90Kg/h and two tanks totalling 406 litres, the range can exceed 650 kilometres.

The Colibri was the first Helicopter to be in line with the new JAR 27 directives and is therefore one of the most silent of its class ( as much as 6,6 dBs below the standards set by ICAO International Civil Aviation Organisation - the international Body who deals with Civil Aviation).

The blades of the Colibri are made with the latest composites. Their profile is of an asymmetric evolution type with parabolic shaped heads. This construction solution results in having greater reliability as well as less noise. The maximum blade speed (obviously at head point) is of 213 m/sec. Each blade weighs only 25 kilos despite a length of almost five metres.

The designers have also worked on making maintenance easy and economical as well as concentrating on the noise aspect as previously stated. For example, the main rotor doesn't have ball bearings. The "Spheriflex" system used hinges on three special elastomers which allow the blades to move in the required directions.

The same attention was accorded to the rear rotor: in fact, in order to reduce vibrations and noise, the eight blades are spaced asymmetrically between each other so as to generate very high frequency thrusts. Furthermore the tail terminal is a "Fenestron", just as all Eurocopter models. Effectively, a casing partially encompasses the tail rotor thus reducing noise further. The system furthermore enhances safety whilst flying very low. This design characteristic makes a Eurocopter recognizable at a glance.

The pilot's instruments also visibly underwent extensive thought as proven by the use of a double "VEMD" multifunction display.

The Colibri comes in five models. The "Utility" constitutes basic "spec." whilst the "Offshore" offers floaters for water landings. The "Law enforcement" for the Forces and the "Training" fitted with dual commands for the schools take care of their own specific markets. The Corporate model, sports high standards of finishes aimed at Company needs.

The Colibri, as the name suggests, is a light, spacious and silent helicopter, and given an extra turbine it would be allowed to fly also over cities.