Eurocopter EC120 Colibri & Harbin HC120

Originally, this helicopter was a design of Aérospatiale for a successor to the Gazelle and Lama, designated P120. A partner was found in Harbin of China. Meanwhile, Aérospatiale was merged with MBB in Germany to form Eurocopter, and the designation was changed to EC120 with popular name Colibri. The Harbin designation is HC120. Later, Eurocopter became Airbus Helicopters, which renamed the Colibri H120.

The EC120/H120 has a streamlined fuselage, including the gearbox and engine housing on top. The air intake of the single turboshaft engine is at the front of it, above the cockpit. A good view is provided by single piece front windows from top to bottom, and two side windows that taper to the rear. The three blade main rotor is essentially the same as that of the AS350. The exhaust is at the back of the engine housing, and titled a bit to the left. The EC120 has an eight blade shrouded rotor or fenestron, in the tail with vertical fins up and down. Just in front are small horizontal stabilisers. A key feature of the Colibri are the skids: the are attached to the fuselage at the front and at the back. At the back the attachments are wide, flat and curved.

There is only one version of the helicopter, designated either Eurocopter EC120B, Harbin HC120 or Airbus Helicopters H120. P120L was the designation of the prototype.

The skids are one of the main recognition points of the Eurocopter EC120. The rear attachment has a wide streamline body and the front is attached to the fuselage.

At the end of the tail boom is a shrouded tail rotor in the tall vertical stabiliser. Note the simple horizontal stabilisers and small ventral fin.

The front windows are single piece from top to bottom, except for a narrow part in the middle. The side windows taper towards the rear.

Confusion possible with

Airbus Helicopters H130 (Eurocopter EC130)


The EC130/H130 is similar to the EC120/H120 in many ways. Essentially the EC130 is an EC120 with a wider cabin. This is visible especially at the front, with a wider and longer middle front window, and an additional square window at the bottom. Also the vertical stabiliser of the EC130 is lower and ventral fin almost non existent. Finally, the exhaust is curved, but centered with respect to the tail boom.

Airbus Helicopters H135 (Eurocopter EC135)


Another Eurocopter product, but larger than the EC120. It has two engines, with air intakes and exhausts in the top of the fuselage. Furthermore, the EC135 has a 'standard' tube skids, a four blade main rotor and a small gear box hub.

Aérospatiale Gazelle


The Gazelle was one of this first helicopters with a shrouded tail rotor, like the EC120. The droplet shaped fuselage is also similar, as are the tail and main rotor. The Gazelle has its engine placed slightly above the fuselage though, and skids with standard tubes, apart from more subtle differences. 

Leonardo AW09 (SKYe SH09)


The SKYe SH09, now the smallest helicopter in the Leonardo (AgustaWestland) line-up, is of similar size as the EC120 and also has a shrouded tail rotor. This is much bigger though compared to the tailboom and tail. Additionally, the AW09 has a 'standard' tube skids, a five blade main rotor and all glass cockpit doors. (photo: Kecko/WikiMedia)