MBB Bo 105

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Bo 105
Bölkow Bo 105 (aka).jpg
A German-registered Bo 105
Role Light utility helicopter
Manufacturer Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm (MBB)
First flight 16 February 1967
Introduction 1970
Status Active service
Primary users German Army
Indonesian Army
Spanish Army
Philippine Navy
Produced 1967[1]-2001
Number built 1,500+[1]
Unit cost
$354,700 (1975)[2]
$1.86 million (1991)[3]
Developed into MBB/Kawasaki BK 117
Eurocopter EC 135

The Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm Bo 105 is a light, twin-engine, multi-purpose helicopter developed by Bölkow of Ottobrunn, Germany. It featured a revolutionary hingeless rotor system, at that time a pioneering innovation in helicopters when it was introduced into service in 1970. Production of the Bo 105 began at the then recently merged Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm (MBB).

The main production facilities for producing the Bo 105 were located in Germany and Canada; due to the level of export sales encountered, additional manufacturing lines were set up in Spain, Indonesia, and the Philippines.[4] MBB became a part of Eurocopter in 1991, who continued production until 2001, when the Bo 105 was formally replaced in the product line by the Eurocopter EC 135.


The Bo 105A made its maiden flight on 16 February 1967 at Ottobrunn in Germany.[1] The German Civil Aviation Authority certified the helicopter on 13 October 1970 and production for German civil and law enforcement organizations began shortly afterwards. Further type certification by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was granted in April 1972 with United States export orders following.

The Bo 105C was developed in 1972 and the German Ministry of Defence selected this model for its light observation helicopter program, purchasing 100 helicopters in 1977. A specialist anti-tank version armed with Euromissile HOT missiles and designated as the Bo 105PAH-1 was procured by the German Army around the same time, with a total of 212 eventually being delivered.

Offshore-configured Bo 105

In 1976, the Bo 105CB was developed with more powerful Allison 250-C20B engines of which The Royal Netherlands Air Force ordered 30. This was further developed as the Bo 105CBS with the enlargement of the fuselage by 10 inches to meet American market demands for emergency medical service operations, with this version becoming known as the Bo 105 Twin Jet in the United States. US aerospace firm Boeing-Vertol served as a partner in the type's production and further development, and marketed the BO 105 in the US market.[2]

In 1984, the Bo 105LS was developed with the enlarged fuselage of the Bo 105CBS combined with more powerful Allison 250-C28C engines to increase the maximum take-off weight.

Production ended in 2001, due to the Bo 105 being superseded by the more modern Eurocopter EC 135; a total of 1,406 aircraft had been manufactured.[5]

Being the first light twin-engined helicopter in commercial service, it gained widespread use over rural areas (police and EMS / medevac) as well as for offshore operations.

The generally similar MBB Bö 106 featured a widened cabin seating three abreast in the front row and four abreast in the rear of the cabin. The prototype first flew on 25 September 1973,[6] but nothing further came of the project.[7]


A view of a Bo 105's engine, transmission, and main rotor

The Bo 105 has a reputation for having high levels of maneuverability; certain variants have been designed for aerobatic maneuvers and used for promotional purposes by operators, one such operator in this capacity being professional pilot Chuck Aaron, flying for Red Bull.[8] During the 1970s, the Bo 105 was known for having a great useful load capacity and higher cruise speed than the majority of its competitors.[9] While not being considered a visually attractive helicopter by some pilots; the Bo 105 was known for possessing steady, responsive controls and a good flight attitude.[3] Most models could perform steep dives, rolls, loops, turnovers, and various aerobatic maneuvers, according to MBB the B0 105 is cleared for up to 3.5 positive G force and one negative.[10] One benefit of the Bo 105's handling and control style is superior takeoff performance, including significant resistance to catastrophic dynamic rollover;[11] a combination of weight and the twin-engined configuration enables a rapid ascent in a performance takeoff.[12]

Perhaps the most significant feature of the Bo 105 is its rotor blades and rotor head. The rotor system is entirely hingeless, the rotor head consisting of a solid titanium block to which the four blades are bolted;[13] the flexibility of the rotor blades works to absorb movements typically necessitating hinges in most helicopter rotor designs.[10] The rotor blades are made from reinforced-plastic glass-fiber composite material; its flexibility of the main rotor allowed for active elements other than rotor pitch changes to be removed, greatly simplifying maintenance and extending blade lifespan.[14] The reliability of the advanced rotor system is that, in over six million operating hours across the fleet, there had been a total of zero failures.[15] The rigid rotor blade design adopted on the Bo 105 has been partially attributed as responsible for the type's agility and responsiveness, it remained an uncommon feature on competing helicopters throughout the Bo 105's production life.[11]

Military operators would commonly operate the type at a very low altitude to minimise visibility to enemies, the Bo 105 being well matched to such operations as the helicopter's flight qualities effectively removed or greatly minimised several of the hazards such a flight profile could pose to pilots.[16] When outfitted with optional auxiliary fuel tanks, a basic model Bo 105 would have a flight endurance of roughly five hours under load.[12] In the event of a single engine failure, the Bo 105 could typically continue its flight, albeit with a reduction in cruise speed and range.[14] Besides the two pilots, the cabin can be configured to accommodate up to three passengers on a single rear bench, which can be removed to make room for cargo or a stretcher, which can be loaded and unloaded via the large clamshell doors located at the rear of the fuselage.[17]



The variants used by the German Army are the Bo 105P and Bo 105M.

  • Bo 105A : First production model primarily for civil use and equipped with two Allison 250-C18 turbine engines.
  • Bo 105C : Initial version. Developed in 1972 and equipped with two Allison 250-C20 turbines engines.
  • Bo 105CB : Light observation, utility transport version. Developed in 1976 and equipped with two Allison 250-C20B turbine engines of which 30 were delivered to The Royal Netherlands Air Force.
Russian MBB Bo 105 at HeliRussia 2008
  • Bo 105CBS : Utility transport version, with the fuselage stretched by 10 inches for emergency medical service duties.
  • Bo 105CBS-5 : Also known as Superfive, with increase lifting capabilities similar to the LS A3 Superlifter
  • Bo 105D : UK certified offshore version.
  • Bo 105LS A1 : Developed in 1984 with stretched fuselage and two Allison 250-C28C turbine engines.
  • Bo 105LS A3 : Developed in 1986 with maximum take-off weight increased to 2,600 kg.
  • Bo 105LS A3 "Superlifter" : Developed in 1995 with maximum mission weight increased to 2,850 kg.
  • Bo 105P/PAH-1 : With its army designation "PAH-1" and "PAH-1A1" for the upgraded version (PAH=Panzerabwehrhubschrauber; 'Tank-defence helicopter'), is an anti-tank helicopter armed with wire-guided HOT ATGMs (HOT2 for the upgraded A1 version). Most of them are being replaced with the new Eurocopter Tiger multirole attack helicopter, some will still stay in service till the end of their life span. The outphased PAH's are going to be disarmed and downgraded to the VBH version.
  • Bo 105P/PAH-1A1 : Improved anti-tank version for the German Army, fitted with six HOT missile tubes.
  • Bo 105P/PAH-1 Phase 2 : Proposed night attack version for the German Army.
  • Bo 105P/BSH Proposed escort version for the German Army, armed with Stinger air-to-air missiles.
  • Bo 105M : With its army designation "VBH" (Verbindungshubschrauber; 'liaison chopper'), is a light transport and surveillance helicopter. They were outphased and replaced by disarmed and modified PAH1.
  • Bo 105/Ophelia : Test and trials aircraft fitted with a mast-mounted sight.
  • Bo 105ATH : Anti-tank version for the Spanish Army.
  • Bo 105GSH : Armed scout version for the Spanish Army.
  • Bo 105LOH : Observation version for the Spanish Army.
  • Bo 105MSS : Maritime version, fitted a search radar.
  • NBO-105 : Were Manufactured by IPTN under licence from MBB (now Eurocopter) 1976–2011; only rotors and transmission now supplied by Germany; originally NBO-105 CB, but stretched NBO-105 CBS available from 101st aircraft onwards. 122 were produced, Dirgantara Indonesia stopped production in 2008.
  • Bo 105S : Search and rescue version.
  • NBO-105S : Stretched version.
  • Bo 105 Executaire: Boeing Vertol and Carson Helicopters manufactured a 24.5 cm stretched version of the Bo 105 under license as the Executaire in an attempt to break into the U.S. light helicopter market, but sales were dismal.[18]
  • Bo 105E-4 : 12 German Army Bo 105P upgraded and overhauled for a 10 million euro contract and donated to Albania first batch delivered in 2006, the helicopters have better performance and avionics. The conversion of other Bo 105 helicopters from the German Armed Forces is also under consideration with a view to future sales.[19]
  • EC-Super Five : High performance version of the Bo 105CBS.
  • Bo 105 KLH : license-produced combat version of CBS-5 custom-fitted with Korean mission equipment package including communication, navigation, electronic warfare and target acquisition system,[20] to meet Republic of Korea Army's operational requirements. KLH also has greatly improved rotor blade and transmission system. 12 are in service.
  • Bo 106 : Widened cabin to seat 7 instead of 5. First flight was on 26 September 1973.[21] A single helicopter of that variant has been made (registration D-HDCI, serial no. 84). The Bo 106 was also equipped with more powerful Allison 250 C 20B engines. In 1981, the German air rescue organization Deutsche Rettungsflugwacht/DRF Luftrettung bought that prototype and had it rebuilt into a 105 CB-2 with a standard cabin. It flew for DRF until November 1993 under the registration D-HCCC, but in 1994 it was put aside to gain spare parts for another DRF helicopter (Bo 105 CBS-S, registration D-HNNN, serial number 662).



The first Bo 105E-4 that entered service with the Albanian Air Brigade in 2006
German army Bo 105P in flight
 South Korea
A Philippine Navy Bo 105C helicopter used in Search and Rescue, recon & liaison duties

Government and civilian[edit]

Mexican Navy Bo 105 firing rockets
 South Africa

Former operators[edit]

 Sierra Leone
A Bo 105 CBS of the German Federal police
 Trinidad and Tobago
 United Arab Emirates
 United States

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • 24 July 1991 - A Bo 105 went down at the Nevada Test Site, killing 5.[48][49]
  • 2 February 1995 - A Bo 105CB crashed and burned in Indonesia after the pilot lost control due to engine failure while cruising; the accident killed two and injured one.[50]
  • 24 May 2002 - A Bo 105 operating in the UK crashed at sea after the load it was airlifting shifted and struck the tail rotor.[51]
  • 2 October 2005 – A Bo 105S, operated by AMS Air Ambulance, crashed into a mountain side in the Western Cape, South Africa while evacuating a road accident patient. The crash was fatal to all 4 occupants of the craft.[52]
  • December 2005 - A Bo 105 owned by the Canadian Coast Guard crashed off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, leaving two individuals dead.[53]
  • 19 June 2008 - 4 military personnel died in a crash involving a Bo 105 above Bosnia-Herzegovina.[54]
  • 4 July 2008 - 3 police officers were severely injured after a Bo 105 collided with power lines while chasing armed robbers in South Africa.[55]
  • 18 June 2010 - The Bo 105 property of the Argentinian TV channel C5N, crashed into a suburban area, at the outskirts of Buenos Aires. The pilot and a cameraman died in the accident. Crash cause to be determined after further investigation [56]
  • 15 December 2011 - A Bo 105 crashed on a parking lot in the southern Venezuelan city of Ciudad Guayana during a test flight. An aeronautical technician died and the pilot was injured.[57]
  • 9 September 2013 - A Bo 105 owned by the Canadian Coast Guard crashed in the Arctic, leaving three dead. The aircraft was assigned to the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Amundsen, a research vessel and icebreaker.[58]
  • 24 November 2013 - A Bo 105 operated by Aviation Enterprises based at Clark International Airport crashed into a portion of Manila Bay, Philippines. A U.S. C-130 dropped life vests and a life raft to the pilot and lone passenger in response to their distress call. They were later picked up by a local fisherman and brought to safety. The helicopter was flying home to its base in Pampanga from Caticlan in Aklan after bringing relief goods for victims of Typhoon Haiyan when it encountered problems.[59]

Specifications (Bo 105CB)[edit]

MBB Bo 105.png
Cockpit of a Bo 105
External video
Documentary on Bo 105P PAH1 attack helicopter
Bo 105 performing acrobatic display

Data from Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1988-89 [60]

General characteristics



See also[edit]

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists



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  2. ^ a b Weeghman 1975, p. 54.
  3. ^ a b Moll 1991, p. 105.
  4. ^ Moll 1991, pp. 103-104.
  5. ^ Eurocopter Press Release - Eurocopter celebrates the 40th Anniversary of the Maiden Flight of the BO105
  6. ^ Taylor 1976, p. 73.
  7. ^ Air International May 1976, p. 246.
  8. ^ "Sports & Entertainment News | Teams & Athletes". Red Bull USA. Retrieved 19 December 2012. 
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  10. ^ a b Moll 1991, p. 101.
  11. ^ a b Molly 1991, p. 103.
  12. ^ a b Moll 1991, p. 104.
  13. ^ Moll 1991, pp. 98, 101.
  14. ^ a b Weeghman 1975, p. 56.
  15. ^ Moll 1991, p. 98.
  16. ^ Moll 1991, pp. 102-103.
  17. ^ Weeghman 1975, p. 57.
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  19. ^ EADS N.V. - Eurocopter to deliver 12 BO 105 helicopters to the Albanian Defense Ministry
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  21. ^ Flug Revue, issue January 1974, page 4
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  45. ^ "World’s Air Forces 1987 pg.96". flightglobal.com. Retrieved 5 February 2014. 
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  52. ^ "Accident Report CA18/2/3/8017" (PDF). South African Civil Aviation Authority. Retrieved 2009-11-03. 
  53. ^ http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/investigation-begins-into-newfoundland-helicopter-crash-1.566620
  54. ^ http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-06/20/content_8403923.htm
  55. ^ http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Cops-critical-after-chopper-crash-20080704
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  57. ^ "El Universal (Spanish)". 
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  59. ^ http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/regions/11/25/13/foreign-passengers-ill-fated-relief-chopper-recall-ordeal
  60. ^ Taylor 1988, pp. 93—94.


External links[edit]