Arizona-based MD Helicopters has become a firm favorite with military and police forces around the world including those in Afghanistan, Argentina, Italy, Korea, Jordan, Turkey, Finland, and the USA. With a reputation for producing “the most survivable” helicopters in the world, MD helicopters are agile, fast, and they are proven for secure, attack, and reconnaissance missions.
In the past few months alone a number of police departments have expanded their fleets to include MD aircraft.
Recent acquisitions were made by:
- The Hungarian National Police that added five MD 902 Explorer helicopters to its air support fleet
- The Columbus Division of Police in Ohio that upgraded two of its MD helicopters
- The Prince George’s County Police Department that expanded its aviation fleet with a third MD helicopter
From Civil to Commercial and Scout Attack Helicopters
A business descended from the helicopter company established by the legendary Howard Hughes in 1947, MD Helicopters Holdings Inc. was acquired by the hugely ambitious and highly successful investment fund owner Lynn Tilton 12 years ago. Recognizing the future potential of what was already an iconic brand, Ms. Tilton recapitalized the company, which at that time was a subsidiary of the Dutch RDM Holdings Inc. and renamed it MD Helicopters, Inc, (MDHI), Since then it has operated independently and boasts a wholly owned manufacturing operation in Mexico. Of course, MD parts and services are equally important.
The original Hughes helicopter company was focused on craft for civil use. After McDonnel Douglas (MD) bought the company there was some shift with, for instance, the Hungarian National Police using their craft to help secure borders and provide ground and air support as long ago as 1986. Similarly, Prince George’s County police have been using MD helicopters since 2000.
From the start, the focus has been on helicopters that were technologically advanced and simply better than most, particularly when it comes to rotorcraft. So when Tilton took over she promised to “re-energize, restructure, and preserve” the MD brand, and developed strategic roadmaps that would stabilize and invigorate growth of the company. Her first big break came in 2011 when MDHI was awarded a US$186 million contract by the US Army for six helicopters to be used for training in Afghanistan.
Four years later the first armed MD 530F Cayuse Warrior was delivered to the coalition forces operating in Afghanistan. A year later the Malaysian Ministry of Defense announced it was a launch customer for MD 530G, the company’s then new light scout attack helicopter.
Since then it’s just got better and better.
MD Helicopter’s Police Fleet Across the World
The Hungarian National Police started flying MD aircraft when McDonnell-Douglas owned the company. Late January 2017 they announced they were adding five MD902 Explorer Helicopters to their fleet in Budapest, primarily to replace the now aging Mi-2 craft they have been using. The acquisition makes the Hungarian police one of the largest MD-brand fleet operators in Eastern Europe.
The new MD902s have exceptional capabilities including night vision, a 3-axis autopilot, high-performance surveillance equipment, and more. The patented anti-torque control system it uses reduces the workload of pilots and cuts external noise levels. All in all, it improves safety in small, confined spaces and on offshore platforms.
The Columbus Police Department’s commitment to MDHI is in line with their decision to upgrade their fleet. They announced late April 2017 that two MD 500E helicopters would be overhauled over a relatively short period of time (just a few weeks) and re-certified as F models. This was in keeping with a previous upgrade of four other E models in 2015. What this means is that the Rolls Royce engine is upgraded; blades and stabilizers are replaced; a dual-screen Garmin G500H electronic flight display is installed; and a Fargo auxiliary fuel tank is added.
This series of conversions makes the Columbus Police Department the second largest municipal aviation unit for law enforcement that exists in the US. This has increased their response time exponentially and has also made them hugely successful in terms of misdemeanor and felony arrests.
Prince George’s County
In May 2017 the Prince George’s County’s aviation section of their police department announced they would be acquiring a third MD520N helicopter. With two of these helicopters in service since 2000, the police department has found it to be an exceptional aircraft when it comes to law enforcement, particularly in a diverse 500 square mile region like Prince George’s County.
A major highlight is that this police law enforcement aviation unit will be the first to fly a helicopter with MD’s first all-glass cockpit. Custom-configured, the new helicopter really does have it all!
Market leaders when it comes to the supply of helicopter spare parts, Prime Industries has offered Airbus parts and services for many years, and relatively recently expanded its operation to MD Helicopters. If there’s anything you need for an MD or any other Airbus craft contact us to see how we can assist.