|Headquarters||Mesa, Arizona, U.S.|
|Lynn Tilton, CEO|
|Owner||Patriarch Partners, LLC|
MD Helicopters, Inc. is an American aerospace manufacturer that produces helicopters primarily for commercial use. Coverage here includes the company's tenure as McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Systems, a subsidiary of McDonnell Douglas.
The company began in 1947 as a unit of Hughes Aircraft, then was part of the Hughes Tool Company after 1955. It became the helicopter division of Hughes' Summa Corporation in 1972, and was finally reformed as Hughes Helicopters, Inc. in 1981. However, throughout its history, the company was informally known as Hughes Helicopters. The company was sold to McDonnell Douglas in 1984.
Hughes Helicopters produced three major designs during its 37-year history. The Model 269/300 was Hughes' first successful helicopter design. Built in 1956, and entering production in 1957, it would eventually become part of the Army inventory as a primary trainer, designated TH-55 Osage. In 1983, the company licensed Schweizer Aircraft to produce the Model 300C. Schweizer was eventually purchased by Sikorsky Aircraft, which is itself now a division of Lockheed Martin.
In May 1965, the company won the contract for a new observation helicopter for the U.S. Army, and produced the OH-6 Cayuse (Hughes Model 369). The OH-6 was later developed into the civilian Model 500, variants of which remain in production to this day.
In 1975, the company won the contract for the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter. By December 1981, six AH-64A prototypes had been built and the Army had awarded a production contract to the company. Production would reach more than 1,100 by 2005.
In January 1984, Hughes Helicopters, Inc. was sold to McDonnell Douglas by Summa Corporation. McDonnell Douglas paid $470 million for the company and made it a subsidiary with the name McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Systems in August 1984. In 1986, McDonnell Douglas sold all the rights to the Model 300C to Schweizer Aircraft.
On August 1, 1997, McDonnell Douglas merged with Boeing, but Boeing's plans to sell the civilian helicopter line to Bell Helicopter in 1998 were thwarted by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
In 1999, Boeing completed the sale of the civilian line of helicopters to MD Helicopter Holdings Inc., an indirect subsidiary of the Dutch company, RDM Holding Inc. The line included the MD 500 and variants as well as the family of derivative NOTAR aircraft that originated with Hughes Helicopters Inc. Boeing maintained the AH-64 line of helicopters and rights to the NOTAR system.
After suffering dismal commercial performance, the company was purchased in 2005 by Patriarch Partners, LLC, an investment fund. The company was recapitalized as an independent company, MD Helicopters, Inc. MD Helicopters is based in Mesa, Arizona. The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of MD Helicopters is Lynn Tilton, who is also the Chief Executive Officer and sole principal of Patriarch Partners, LLC. MD is developing a helicopter called MD6XX for delivery in 2018.
(Under both McDonnell Douglas and MD Helicopters)
(Under McDonnell Douglas only)
Comparable major helicopter manufacturers:
- Airbus Helicopters
- Bell Helicopter
- Boeing Rotorcraft Systems
- Russian Helicopters
- Sikorsky Aircraft
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- MD Helicopters developing new ‘6XX’ assault platform 2 March, 2016
- MD Helicopters Invests In Dual-Use Programs