Design of the EC120B (originally called the P120L) light single-engine helicopters was started in early 1990 as a joint effort between Eurocopter, CATIC/HAMC (a Chinese Aerospace company) and Singapore Technologies Aerospace. Eurocopter is the program leader, with a 61 percent share, and is responsible for the dynamic system, final assembly, flight test and certification. CATIC/HAMC has a 24 percent share and is responsible for the cabin, landing gear and fuel system. STA has a 15 percent share and is responsible for the tail boom, doors and instrument pedestal. The design team resides at Eurocopter in France, while the partners at their respective facilities manufacture the various components.
The EC120B is a completely new design that brings Eurocopter’s innovations, such as the Fenestron tail, composite rotor hub and blades to the five-seat helicopter field. The standard seating configuration has a pilot and one passenger up front and three passengers in the back, all in energy attenuating seats. Alternatively, one stretcher and one attendant can be accommodated in addition to the pilot. The helicopter is also approved for external lift work.
The name “Colibri” is used in the French-speaking world, which means “hummingbird." However, that name is not used in the English-speaking world.
The drivetrain for the EC120B uses a Turbomeca Arrius 2F engine, a three-bladed composite rotor head, composite blades and an eight-bladed, composite Fenestron-shrouded tail rotor.
The EC120B had its first flight in 1995, was certificated in 1997, and first deliveries were made in 1998.