Eurocopter/Kawasaki BK117A-4
Twin-engine medium utility helicopter, France

Archive Photos 1

Eurocopter/Kawasaki BK117A-4 (N625MB, c/n 7108, 1999) on display (c.1990s) at the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro Airshow, and MCAS El Toro, California (Photos by John Shupek)

Overview 2

The MBB/Kawasaki BK117 is a Twin-engine medium utility-transport helicopter. It was a joint development between Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm (MBB) of Germany and Kawasaki of Japan. MBB was later purchased by Daimler-Benz and eventually became a part of Eurocopter. The BK117 is popular for passenger and VIP-transport, seating from seven up to 10 people. It is also used for aerial crane and sling work, law enforcement, and military transport, and is exceptional as an air ambulance and search and rescue platform. Its successor was developed from the BK117C-1 version. It is produced as the EC 145.

Development 2

The BK117 was a joint development between MBB and Kawasaki based on an agreement made on 25 February 1977. The agreement would replace two separate projects for Twin-engine general purpose helicopters; the Bo 107 by MBB and the KH-7 from Kawasaki. Costs were shared equally, with MBB developing the rotors (based on the rigid rotor system used on MBB’s Bo 105), tailboom, flight controls and hydraulic system and Kawasaki developing the landing gear, airframe, main transmission and other minor components. Each company would have its own assembly line producing aircraft for local markets.

Each company was to build two prototypes (although Kawasaki only built one) to be completed by 1979; one for flight testing and the others for tie down testing and static testing. MBB’s flying prototype made its first flight at Ottobrunn on 13 June 1979, followed by the Kawasaki prototype at Gifu on 10 August 1979. Development was slower than expected, a problem made worse by shortages of skilled manpower available at MBB. Although it was originally planned for airworthiness certification to be achieved before the end of 1980, German certification was not achieved until 9 December 1982, with Japanese certification following on 17 December, and the all-important United States FAA certification being obtained on 29 March 1983.

A single BK117A-3 (c/n 7106) was leased by the Canadian Forces Air Command for a test program and designated as the CH-143. When the program was over, the aircraft was returned to MBB Canada.

In total, 444 BK117’s were made; 329 (and two prototypes) by MBB at Donauworth, 111 (and one prototype) by Kawasaki in Japan.

Japanese Production:

German Production:

Variants 2

Operators 2

Civil Operators

The majority of the helicopters are operated by various emergency services although it is also operated by private individuals, companies and executive charter operators.

Military Operators

Former Military Operators

Specifications (BK117B-2) 2

General Characteristics



  1. Shupek, John. Photos, copyright © 2000 Skytamer Images. All Rights Reserved
  2. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, MBB/Kawasaki BK117


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