BO 105 half-century, Jet Ranger X maiden flight and more rotary news
Airbus Helicopters has celebrated the 50th anniversary of the former Bölkow BO 105 helicopter that made its maiden flight on 16 February 1967 from Ottobrunn near Munich. Conceived as a two-tonne-class light multipurpose helicopter, new technologies and materials led to the twin Allison C250 turboshaft-powered BO 105 becoming the first helicopter to feature a rigid, hingeless rotor head made of titanium and fibreglass-reinforced rotor blades.
Since the first delivery in 1970, more than 300 customers worldwide have bought some 1,400 BO 105s to operate in roles including search and rescue, police/paramilitary, VIP, passenger and cargo transportation, clocking up more than eight million flight hours. The largest customer was the German Armed Forces, which took delivery of more than 200. Around 400 BO 105s are still in service today, the longest-serving carrying out aerial work on the Falkland Islands. Current successor is the H135 which features further innovations including a glass cockpit, autopilot and fenestron tail rotor. “The BO 105 has made a name for itself above all for its versatility, robustness and reliability,” commented Wolfgang Schoder, Chief Executive Officer of Airbus Helicopters Germany. “The fact that it is still being used fifty years after its maiden flight speaks volumes for the high quality of this helicopter. As a pioneer of modern helicopter technology, the BO 105 continues to influence our product range today. What became known as the Bölkow rotor significantly reduced maintenance costs when compared to traditional rotor heads with flapping and lead-lag hinges, as fewer moving parts were required. Furthermore, the BO 105’s special rotor system enabled it to perform with a higher degree of agility and manoeuvrability — capabilities for which it is still renowned today.”
February 1967 maiden flight for the innovative BO 105...
...and fifty years later, a 105 painted up to mark the anniversary