- 30 Jan 2018
- Mike Chase
- Helicopter Comparison
The MD Explorer (otherwise known as the MD 900, and then the MD 902) has been a fixture of the light twin-engine turbine helicopter market for almost 30 years, with the upgraded MD 902 still in production with MD Helicopters today.
The MD Explorer, including the MD 900 and MD 902, has a pre-owned price range between $495k and $5.0m, according to JETNET data in June, 2021. This represents the lowest and highest asking prices on the market at the time. Aircraft Bluebook does not publish data on MD 900-series helicopter retail values.
There are a range of options in the same twin-turbine light helicopter market as the MD 902, including the Agusta A109E Power, which can be fitted with 5 executive passenger seats, offers a similarly high available payload when fully fuel, and is powered by Pratt & Whitney PW200C engines. Operators may also wish to consider other platforms in the MD Helicopters range, specifically the older pre-owned MD 900.
The NOTAR anti-torque system is a standout feature of the MD 900, MD 902 and other rotorcraft produced by MD Helicopters. According to MD Helicopters, this system “eliminates the mechanical disadvantages of a tail rotor”. It also improves safety, due to the removal of the tail rotor; cuts back on noise, with NOTAR designed to be 50% quieter than any other helicopter; cuts back on pilot workload, as the system is more stable and easy to control; and reduces aircraft vibration.
Compared to the MD 900, the MD 902 brought a range of improvements, notably through the switch to more powerful Pratt & Whitney PW206E engines, which were later upgraded again to PW207E powerplants. The original MD 900 utilized a pair of PW206As. The MD 902 has additional engine isolation features and an Integrated Instrument Display System that wasn’t available on the MD 900.
MD 902 Explorer Turbine Helicopter Overview
By Gerrard Cowan
Initially, the MD 902 was equipped with two Pratt & Whitney PW206E engines, but these were later replaced with more powerful Pratt & Whitney PW207E engines.
The MD Explorer has carved out a significant position in the market since its certification in 1994, with particular interest among para-public and commercial operators, as well as private operators.
The MD 902 can transport 6-7 passengers (though usually four in executive configuration) with 1-2 crew members, and has a range of 215nm according to Conklin & de Decker.
What features does the MD 902 offer?
The MD 902 Explorer uses a graphite composite NOTAR (No Tail Rotor) anti-torque system, helping reduce noise and overall helicopter vibrations, and eliminating tail rotor strikes.
It uses the flow of fan-driven low-pressure air through two tail boom slots and a direct-jet thruster in conjunction with two vertical stabilizers to provide required anti-torque and directional control.
What came before and after the MD 902?
Prior to introduction of the MD 902, the MD 900 Explorer was the first aircraft in its series, and was one of the first helicopters to adopt Pratt & Whitney Canada’s PW200-series engines.
The MD 902 followed, advancing the aircraft in a range of aspects (detailed below).
MD Helicopters manufactures a range of other commercial helicopters aimed, in part, at the VIP/corporate markets, including the MD 500E and the MD 600N light helicopters.
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