This helicopter has a number of notable firsts to its name. It was the first light twin-turbine helicopter designed for the commercial market, it was the first production helicopter with composite rotor blades, and it was the first production helicopter with a rigid, hingeless main rotor. Boeing and its rigid rotor also introduced it to the North American market and composite blade technology was licensed by a number of other helicopter manufacturers.
Boelkow GMBH, a German aircraft manufacturer, designed the Bo 105. Boelkow was later merged with the Messerschmidt Aircraft Company and the aviation division of the Blohm conglomerate to form MBB. In turn, in the early 1990s the helicopter division of MBB was merged with the helicopter division of Aerospatiale to form Eurocopter. Today, Eurocopter is a division of EADS, a multinational European aerospace giant.
It is a five-place light twin-engine turbine helicopter that is characterized by an interconnected passenger cabin and luggage compartment that extends the full length of the fuselage. Clamshell doors at the back of the fuselage allow access to this combined passenger and luggage compartment that has an unobstructed length of over 9 feet. The standard seating configuration has a pilot and one passenger up front and a three-place bench in the back. Alternatively, two litters can be loaded through the clamshell doors and placed side by side on the flat floor. In this configuration, there is also room for two medical attendants. The original version of this helicopter had rather limited rear seat legroom. As a result, an early modification lengthened the rear cabin 10 inches. Aircraft with the extended cabin are designated with an “S”. The original Bo 105 had only indifferent OEI and hot and high performance. This was addressed by installing higher powered engines. Aircraft with the upgraded engine are designated with an “L”. Thus, the Bo 105LS has both the long cabin and the upgraded engines.
The drivetrain uses two Rolls-Royce 250-C28C engines to provide excellent hot and high capability. It uses a rigid, hingeless, four-bladed rotor. The main rotor blades are made of composite construction, as are the two tail rotor blades.
Design of the Bo 105 was launched in the early 1960s, most likely to meet a German government requirement. Early on, Boeing Helicopters had invested money in the Boelkow organization because of their lead in composite blade technology. When it became clear that the Bo 105 had substantial market potential in North America, and possibly with the U.S. Navy, Boeing Helicopters became the North American distributor for this helicopter. However, the potential with the U.S. Navy never materialized and in 1973 the MBB organization took over responsibility for marketing the Bo 105 in North America.
The first flight of the Bo 105 took place in 1967 and certification to the standards of FAR 27 was obtained in 1971. The aircraft, which went through numerous versions, was in production from 1972 to 1999 with a total of over 1,400 of all variants manufactured. The Bo 105LS was in production from 1986 to 1999. During this time, 61 were manufactured and most were assembled at MBB’s facility in Canada.