MD Helicopters MD 900/902 Explorer

McDonnell Douglas MD-900 Explorer G-11 Belgium police

The MD Helicopters MD Explorer is a light twin utility helicopter. The Explorer was the first McDonnell Douglas helicopter to incorporate the NOTAR system from its initial design. NOTAR is the name of a helicopter anti-torque system which replaces the use of a tail rotor.

Developing nation: United States.
Manufacturer: MD Helicopters.
Production Lines: Mesa, AZ.
Type aircraft: light twin utility helicopter.
First flight: 18 December 1992.
First delivery: December 1994.

The Explorer has been built largely from composite materials and is powered by twin Pratt & Whitney PW 206A turboshaft. The helicopter incorporates the NOTARyaw control system, bearingless main rotor, Digital avionics including FADEC . The Liquid Crystal Integrated Instrument Display System with two six inches screens. The MD 900 Explorer was certified and first deliveries were made in December 1994. The Company phased out production of the MD-900 Explorer in 1997 as it transition to new Model MD 902 Explorer. The MD 902 Explorer applies the latest airframe and engine technologies available at that time.


  • MD 900 Explorer Initial Production model, powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW206A (or PW206E or PW207E) turboshaft engines.
  • MD 901 Explorer Civil utility transport model, powered by two Turbomeca Arrius turboshaft engines. None ordered.
  • MD 902 Marketing name for an enhanced version with Category A approval and powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW206E or PW207E. Enhanced version has additional engine isolation features and changes to the Integrated Instrument Display System
  • MH-90 Enforcer Armed version for the United States Coast Guard flown by the Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron from 1998 to 2000.
  • Combat Explorer One demonstrator helicopter displayed at the 1995 Paris Air Show.

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1–2
  • Capacity: 6 Passengers
  • Payload: 1,163 kg  internal  or 1,361 kg slung load (2,565 lb or 3,000 lb respectively)
  • Length: 9.85 m (32 ft 4 in)
  • Rotor diameter: 10.31 m (33 ft 10 in)
  • Height: 3.66 m (12 ft 0 in)
  • Disc area: 83.52 m2 (899.0 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 1,531 kg (3,375 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 2,835 kg (6,250 lb) (internal load), 3,129 kg (6,900 lb) (slung load)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney Canada PW206E turboshaft, 550 shp (410 kW) (continuous) each


  • Never exceed speed: 259 km/h (140 knots, 161 mph)
  • Cruise speed: 248 km/h (134 knots, 154 mph) at sea level (max. cruise)
  • Range: 542 km (293 nmi, 337 mi) at 1,500 m (5,000 ft)
  • Endurance: 3 hr 12 min
  • Service ceiling: 5,335 m (17,500 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 5.1 m/s (1,000 ft/min)
  • Hover ceiling: 3,400 m (11,000 ft) (in ground effect, International Standard Atmosphere)

All pictures courtesy of Zijde Aviation Photo and Publishing, Rob Vogelaar