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Old 10th Nov 2010, 10:13   #1 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Where it rains a lot .....
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EC120

Do any of you fly the 120 ? i will be upgrading from my lovely little r44 raven 2 which has given me many happy flying hours to a ec120,
are they as nice as everyone says ?
maintenance say they are a doddle to work on (although there is the eurocopter parts / service which might not be the best)
but other than that ???

nelly
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Old 10th Nov 2010, 13:18   #2 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: uk
Posts: 185
having a number of hours on the EC 120 including G-LHMS I would avoid them at all cost's, they are great for 1 or 2 people to cruise around in but they struggle to get off the ground with 5 on board and that's out of an airfield you will not get out of a small private site with one if you are heavy.

The servicing is not cheap you get a number of small services then a very expensive one so it works out the same as any other small turbine heli, except spare parts are a nightmare to get hold of. The one I look after recently spent 6 weeks on the ground waiting for spare parts.

I would wait for the 66 to come out or look at a late model jetranger instead or if you can afford one a 350

CB
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Old 10th Nov 2010, 16:02   #3 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Aberdeenshire
Posts: 205
Have to disagree

I never really had a performance problem with the 120, found them a very nice aircraft to fly, very comfortable with a good view for pax and a useful size boot and good and stable in strong/messy winds.

There is however a big difference in weight between models. IIRC floats and VIP seats/soundproofing would add about 130kg versus and ex utility spec aircraft I used to fly which had seats added after original order. This equates to over an hours fuel or an extra person and a bit. So take a good look at the Gross Weight. Floats and bottles alone was, I think about 70kg.

I was a big fan, used them for most purposes. Didn't go wrong much, but when they did EC could be slow with support.
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Old 10th Nov 2010, 18:34   #4 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: England & Scotland
Age: 54
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I have run one for a couple of years. I hold R44 (trained on that) and EC120 ticket. I spent some months looking at everything from used jet-box, Hughes 500, an R44, an older single Squirrel. Did dream about an EC130 but it is sooooo ugly from the front.

No comparison for me; I bought a 2000 EC120. I did fit floats (you can do this with pilot removable bags - extra 36kg fuel when you take them off. I needed these for commercial work over water but I would otherwise have left them off and saved the weight.

The EC120 I have taken from South UK to the Scottish Highlands (and back) in a weekend - 4 adults and baggage. No-one complained getting out. And 5 people from South England to the Cholmondley Pagent of Power. I don't have a problem with power - just keep the weight within limits.

Fantastic views from any seat (back of a jet ranger is pokey and a Hughes 500... need I say more?). It is a great aircraft; mine has been very dependable and easy to maintain. Smooth in flight, looks great, very popular with passengers (and me). It also attracts a good deal of commercial work - wedding transfers are very popular!

I agree some have found EC slow with parts - touch wood it has not yet happened to me in a way that stopped the aircraft. And I have seen R44's taking significant cumulative hanger time; parts are faster but services take longer and you need parts more often. An old jet-box will also cost significantly more to service, I think, as would a Squirrel.

You have to watch weight & balance on all machines. The EC120 does not have the power of a twin squirrel or an EC130 - but it doesn't have the cost to buy or service either. If the machine is right for what you wish to use her for then go for it. If you want "Hot / High / Heavy" then you need more money and a Squirrel, or you want a ..... etc.... etc.... etc.
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Old 10th Nov 2010, 18:36   #5 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 1,035
Quite frankly if you want to stay eurocopter get a gazelle ( EC120 was its replacement) Gazelle is faster doesnt have the w&B issue of the EC120 and will get off the ground with a good payload and way cheaper and looks better !
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Old 10th Nov 2010, 21:23   #6 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Canada
Posts: 10
As a private pilot, you can do no better than the EC120. I donít understand the love/hate relationship with this girl but I logged 300hrs over 2 years with nothing but fond memories. She is fast, smooth and sexy plus she had room for all of my wifeís stuff (oh yes, a lot of stuff). Being in Canada, Eurocopter was very responsive so I cannot comment about Europe. As for the power and weight/balance, full fuel offers you 3:45min in the air. Manage your fuel load and you can comfortably take 4 passengers without stress.
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Old 10th Nov 2010, 22:17   #7 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Essex
Age: 44
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I fly John's EC120 out of Redhill and have to agree with his comments...you need to plan your load and fuel accordingly.
I have flown H500s and love them for agility, power, etc., but I love the 120 equally for its speed, stability, visibility for pax, etc....yes you can't take 5 huge blokes with gear in it like a gazelle but then most of the time its just me and a few friends or family out for a jolly
I have taken 4 'heavies' in her with enough fuel for 2 hours, but (due to my weight) they all had to sit in the back.
Great aircraft IMHO and I would love to own one like her.
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Old 11th Nov 2010, 07:53   #8 (permalink)
 
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This is an interesting thread for me because I'm in exactly the same position; looking to move to a 120 in the Spring. As a dedicated petrol head, I generally prefer speed and handling over comfort, but in this case the benefits of the 120 outweigh the disadvantages. I've spoken to several owners and none of them have any regrets. C of G was an issue in the early models, with the battery

I can't agree with the Gazelle argument though - it's a completely different ship. As a petrol head I love it, even though the stretch is still cramped in the back and can be a pain to fly, but it's no comparison to the 120. Also, check out insurance. Haywards' quote was ridiculous for a G reg Gazelle, asking for a zillion hours on type, even more on turbines and a safety pilot at all times!!! There have been a lot of gazelle accidents...

TTB
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Old 11th Nov 2010, 17:35   #9 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Aberdeenshire
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W&B Mod

Two of our machines had the weight and balance mod, which basically put about 15kg in the tail boom and made all the C of G issues go away if you were in weight you were in limits. The penalty is increasing the max all up a little. Well worth it.
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Old 16th Nov 2010, 04:11   #10 (permalink)


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I am also doing some research, trying to decide if an EC120 would be a good replacement for the R44 Raven 2 that I am flying for a company currently. I hope some of you with EC120 experience can help me out a little. Sorry the post is a little long winded, I'm just weighing some different options and pros/cons, as well as seeking some EC120 specific information. My thoughts and questions regarding the EC120 are at the bottom of my post if you want to skip down there.

Typically I am flying with 1 or 2 passengers. Primary use is moving people, aerial survey and lots of off-airport landings. Flight time is 250-300 hours per year. Often times we are flying engineers and equipment operators, and they all need to be able to see outside well and look at/pass around aerial maps. Generally this means the boss is up front with me, pointing at what he wants to see while the rear seat passengers are trying to see the same thing. Landing elevations are from 900ft MSL to 3000ft MSL, nothing high altitude but the summers are very hot and humid. Most days we cover at least 250NM. 200NM or more straight line flying with lots of low and slow surveying. Anywhere from 3 - 6 hours of flight time. The terrain in the coal fields is steep and rugged, creating loads of turbulence when the wind picks up.

Our Raven 2 has worked well most of the time, but it has it's downfalls.
- While it is generally quicker than a 206 b series, an extra 20-30 knots would be very welcome on the 100NM+ flights to/from home.
- Good visibility, but the seats are uncomfortable for longer periods, and the rear seats are terrible for most grown men with boots on.
- Does not handle turbulence well. Stronger winds over flatter area is no problem, but in rugged terrain it is a miserable ride. The R44 itself is not the smoothest ride anyway, no matter how well the last track and balance session was.
- Our maintenance shop is 130NM away and bringing it in for things such as a 50 hour oil change can be a pain. The helicopter is stored inside but without climate control, and the belts always expand/contract with the weather and seem to need adjusting frequently.
- When landing on uneven surfaces, the cabin often distorts enough the some of the doors are difficult to latch unless you push in from the outside while turning the latch.
- We almost always top off the fuel tanks as it is common to be in the air for 2 - 2.5 hours. With full fuel it is a great 2 person aircraft, and does 'okay' with three. There are several times when we have 4 people in the helicopter and about 1.5 hours of fuel, and room for another passenger under similar conditions would be very ideal.

---
So I have looked at numbers for other comparable aircraft. R66, MD 500, 206 B and L series, 407, etc.

I really don't have a lot of interest in the R66. It looks to have the same uncomfortable seats, off-center t/r pedals, lack of rear leg room, only 5-10 knot cruise speed increase. The ride will be about the same if not worse due to the taller m/r mast. I suspect it will handle equally poor in high wind and rugger terrain. Hover performance is suppose to be pretty good, but that is the only real good thing I see about it. It is probably a solid four seater, although not so comfortably. While the main design is very much "R44", it is too new for me to have a lot of interest in. A lot of the VIPs in the company don't like the R44 as it is, because they say it just doesn't feel "significant enough".

The MD500 is quick, maneuverable, and handles turbulence well. But no luggage, shorter range, only four people in the aircraft in a reasonable setup. The back seat is terrible, and visibility from the back is not good either.

A 206 b series equipped with a/c (a must for us) looks like it would have less usable load than the R44 with full fuel. Back seat visibility is not good with the bulk head, and rear seat head room is not ideal. Cruise speed is equal to the R44 if not slower. The ride is a little smoother, but generally all you seem to be gaining is cost. The L series might be a little quicker, but even more expensive, and the rear seat would be very disconnected from the front for what we do. I haven't flown the L series but I'm thinking that it still isn't going to handle turbulence as well as a fully articulated system does.

The 407 would be my ideal helicopter for them, with a few exceptions. Fast, comfortable, loads of power, good parts/service availability. The negative is of course the disconnect of the rear passengers from the front and lack for forward visibility from the rear. If my boss had a desire to frequently haul around 5-6 people this would probably be an easy sale, but due to the way we normally use the helicopter it probably doesn't make sense.
---

Based on the information I have gathered so far, the EC120 looks like a pretty good fit for most of what we do. With better hover performance it would be great (at least on paper). Price on a fairly low time used ship is very reasonable, operating cost is very reasonable as well (roughly twice of the R44 according to some surveys). I am told that the ship will cruise at 120 knots with a night sun and flir unit, and should cruise at 125-135 knots clean with a couple of occupants. Does that sound accurate? That would shave 12-15 minutes off of the first and last leg of our typical day. It should also help to bridge the gap between a long trip in the helicopter and a ridiculously short trip in their Premier jet, which requires a lot more planning. The aircraft has a good range and good loiter time. Visibility looks to be great from front and the elevated rear seats. The fenestron should provide a little extra security when passengers load/unload with the rotors turning, and be a little less prone to damage from brush in unprepared landing sites. Typical useful load with full fuel seems to be about 100 lbs over our R44. What that looks like to me is a good three seater, an okay four seater and the occasional five seater if you leave some fuel behind.


So on to the concerns about the EC120...
Hover performance doesn't look so good, it isn't a hot/high/heavy machine. At gross weight on a warm day it isn't going to be impressive. The R44 numbers are a little better, but there is no reason I need to have four people and a lot of fuel on board when I'm landing in a confined area above 3000ft on a hot/humid day. There are times and conditions when I have to say no to landing in the R44 due to the nature of an LZ, and it looks like the EC120 would put us in that same boat. The higher fuel burn is an advantage as it would shed weight quicker though.

Service and parts availability could be problematic. I have heard from various mechanics that Eurocopter support is less than ideal and it can be difficult to get your hands on parts. Have others in the US found this to be a problem? Our helicopter is not a revenue machine, but my boss (like anyone) does not like a lot of down time.

I haven't found much information inspection times, overhauls or life limited parts. The most I have seen is 100/500/1500 hr and a 12 year inspection. An aircraft that we may look at is a 2001 with roughly 2000 hours. Can anyone tell me what the upcoming maintenance on a 2000 hour ship is going to look like?

I appreciate any more insight you guys may have to offer.
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Old 16th Nov 2010, 10:15   #11 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: London
Posts: 453
A good Raven II will match and often beat a 120 for speed. In my (floated) experience anything over 100kt in a 120 is feels like a strain and over 120Kt is not really feasible.

Other than that I'd agree with most of your analysis. If the R44 is tight for carrying ability in the role you use it for, then it's time to trade up. And by trading up you will certainly get clear of the Robinson snobbery, which may not be justified but is certainly a factor.

The Longranger is a beautiful machine to fly, very smooth and comfortable, and great value, but if having everyone in the same cabin and looking at the same things is a priority then maybe not the machine for you.
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Old 16th Nov 2010, 10:45   #12 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Somewhere
Posts: 41
As350 B2/3

Sounds like you need a squirrel great visibility from both front and rear seats,excellent HOGE performance,smooth comfortable ride,120kt-130kt cruise,range,seats six comfortably,low maintenance the list goes on. It will do everything the 407 does better and more.
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Old 16th Nov 2010, 10:56   #13 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: uk
Posts: 39
the machine for you must be an as350 it meets all your requirements
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Old 16th Nov 2010, 12:30   #14 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: The Netherlands
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Posts: 488
An EC120 will cruise at 120kts without any problem. The max I got out of one was 126kts. A R44 is no match for an EC120.
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Old 16th Nov 2010, 13:29   #15 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: England & Scotland
Age: 54
Posts: 974
I regularly hit 120 3-up.

Cost is less than AS350 - if you don't need the extra power why pay?

I have not seen anything with cabin comfort of the EC120 at a sensible price

3-up, without floats - full fuel load

I have recently had 4-up from Surrey to Western Highlands out Saturday and back Sunday. No complaints from any seat.
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Old 18th Nov 2010, 14:23   #16 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Far from home, but not far from here
Posts: 49
Hey Nelly are you serious about buying a 120 or are you just "tire kicking" as my old man would say. In a different post you asked about the sale of a certain 120 to which I PMed you with my phone number but still have not heard from you.

Chippy
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Old 19th Nov 2010, 01:59   #17 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Yellow Brick Road
Posts: 1,139
The EC120 is sweet to fly and has good auto characteristics. You will be aware that it is under powered when fully loaded on a hot day but the thing I would hate as an owner are the cracked doors. All the EC120s I have come across have cracked doors due to its overhang when open - a design problem which you can't fix.
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Old 9th Mar 2011, 09:02   #18 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: UK
Posts: 270
Is it true that the EC120 has lead weights in the tailboom for weight and balance purposes?.

I heard it was originally designed as a miltary aircraft, and in order to get the C of G working for civil use they had to add weights, hence the payload issues people have with it.

Is this true?
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Old 9th Mar 2011, 13:42   #19 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
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Yes, it can have extra weight in the tailboom.
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Old 9th Mar 2011, 15:28   #20 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Lower Troposphere
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Have about 6 years with the 120.

You are power limited in weather above 25C so you have to manage your fuel vs. load requirements.
That said, low fuel and 3 pax at 6500' in the summer is not a problem.

No problems with door cracks.

Wt and Balance has never been an issue.

EC support has always been acceptable.

Cruises nicely at 120 knots.

Offers energy attenuating seats, crashworthy structure, crashworthy fuel system, excellent visibility, excellent bagage capacity.
Most of the better pilots out there would of course never need these safety features........

100 hr. to 100 hr. inspections with no glitches.

Slighly underpowered, but... have often needed more power in B3's also!

Oh - and you can still walk after flying the machine for 7 hrs. Very comfy seats.

BD
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