The Explorer has been built largely from composite materials and is powered by twin Pratt & Whitney Canada PW 206A turboshafts and has a maximum gross weight of 2950kg. It can lift 1150kg internally, or 1350kg externally and weighs only 1350kg empty.
The MDX/MD Explorer lifted off for the first time on 18 December 1992 at Mesa, Arizona. This new technology helicopter received type certification on 21 December 1994 from the FAA which was only 23 months after first flight. This was one of the shortest certification periods ever recorded for a new helicopter and was also the first new design passenger and utility rotorcraft certified by the FAA in more than ten years.
The MD Explorer is the first commercial helicopter totally designed using computer-aided design techniques and only after a detailed market survey of over 177 operators asking them what they wanted from a new utility helicopter in terms of flight performance and general layout in a 1800 to 3600kg helicopter.
The Explorer has been built largely from composite materials and is powered by twin Pratt & Whitney Canada PW 206A turboshafts and has a maximum gross weight of 2950kg. It can lift 1150kg internally, or 1350kg externally and weighs only 1350kg empty. The helicopter incorporates a range of new technologies to improve safety and performance and reduce operating costs. These include the NOTAR yaw control system, composite, bearingless main rotor with five blades. Digital avionics including FADEC, diagnostics and an Integrated Instrument Display System. The liquid crystal Integrated Instrument Display System (IIDS) replaces traditional cockpit instruments by presenting aircraft operating information in a digital format and icon symbology on two six-inch screens. The system also records operating data for on-board health and usage monitoring, providing technicians with accurate information for performing maintenance functions. Direct operating costs are expected to be as little as $370 per hour.
With 14 feet of flat floor space in the rear cabin, the Explorer is expected to undertake a multitude of civil missions from general utility to offshore transportation, corporate flight, tourist flights and air medical services. In the EMS configuration the Explorer can accommodate two patients, two attendants and life support equipment in addition to the flight crew. The first two of an expected 1000 production MD Explorers were delivered in December 1994.
P.Allen "The Helicopter", 1996