- Aircraft History, Specification and Information -
MD Helicopters MD 500 series
Hughes MD 369HS (MD500C) - N822LJ - Summa Corporation 369HS - Helicopter
1972 Hughes/MD 369HS (MD 500C)
N822LJ (sn 120367S)
Photo taken July 12, 2007
Mc Minnville Municipal Airport, OR - USA
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler
McDonnell Douglas / MD 369FF Helicopter - C-FVGK - Guardian Helicopters
2008 McDonnell Douglas / MD Helicopters 369FF
C-FVGK (sn 0150FF)
Guardian Helicopters
Photo taken July 08, 2008
Calgary/Springbank Airport, AB - Canada (CYBW)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler

The MD Helicopters MD 500 series is an American family of light utility civilian and military helicopters. The MD 500 originated as the Hughes 500, a civilian version of the US Army's OH-6A Cayuse/Loach. The series currently includes the MD 500E, MD 520N, and MD 530F.

Design and development

The successful Hughes 500/MD 500 series began life in response to a US Army requirement for a light observation helicopter. Hughes' Model 369 won the contest against competition from Bell and Hiller. The OH-6 Cayuse first flew in February 1963.

Hughes/MD 500
Prior to the OH-6's first flight, Hughes announced it was developing a civil version, to be marketed as the Hughes 500, available in basic five and seven seat configurations. A utility version with a more powerful engine was offered as the 500U (later called the 500C).

The improved Hughes 500D became the primary model in 1976, with a more powerful engine, a T-tail, and new five-blade main rotor; a four-blade tail rotor was optional. The 500D was replaced by the 500E from 1982 with a pointed nose and various interior improvements such as greater head and leg room. The 530F was a more powerful version of the 500E optimized for hot and high work.

McDonnell Douglas acquired Hughes Helicopters in January 1984, and from August 1985 the 500E and 530F were built as the MD 500E and MD 530F Lifter. Following the 1997 Boeing/McDonnell Douglas merger, Boeing sold the former MD civil helicopter lines to MD Helicopters in early 1999.
Military variants are marketed under the MD 500 Defender name.

MD 520N
The MD 520N introduced a revolutionary advance in helicopter design as it dispensed with a conventional tail rotor in favor of the Hughes/McDonnell Douglas developed NOTAR system.

McDonnell Douglas originally intended to develop the standard MD 520N alongside the more powerful hot and high optimized MD 530N (both were launched in January 1989 and were based on the conventional MD 500E). The MD 530N was the first to fly, on December 29, 1989, the MD 520N first flew on May 1, 1990. Development of the MD 530N was suspended when McDonnell Douglas decided that the MD 520N met most customer requirements for the 530N. Certification for the MD 520N was awarded on September 13, 1991, and the first was delivered on December 31 that year.

In 2000, MD Helicopters announced enhancements to the MD 520N including an improved RR 250-C20R+ engine with 3-5% more power for better performance on warm days, and, with changes to the diffuser and fan rigging, increased range.

The NOTAR no-tail-rotor is popular with law enforcement because of its very low noise levels. Instead of an anti-torque tail rotor, a fan exhaust is directed through slots in the tail boom, using the Coandă effect to counteract the torque of the main rotor, and a controllable thruster at the end of the tail boom for yaw control.


369 - Military prototype designated YOH-6A.

369A - Military production designated OH-6.

369H (MD 500C) - Improved five-seat commercial variant powered by an Allison 250C-18B rated at 317 shp (236 kW), Certified in 1966.

369HM (MD 500M Defender) - Military export version as the MD 500 Defender, Certified in 1968.

369HS (MD 500C) - Improved five-seat commercial variant by an Allison 250C-C20 rated at 400 shp (298 kW), Certified in 1969.

369HE (MD 500C) - A 369HS with higher standard interior fittings, Certified in 1969.

369D (MD 500D) - New commercial version from 1976 powered by an Alison 250-C20B rated at 420 shp (313 kW), Certified in 1976.

369E (MD 500E) - Executive version of the 500D with recontoured nose, Certified in 1982.

NH-500E - Italian-built version of the 500E. Licensed by Breda Nardi before merging with Agusta.

369F - Certified in 1983.

369FF (MD 530F) - Hot and high version of the 500E powered by an Allison 250-C30B rated at 650 shp (485 kW), certififed in 1985.

Unmanned Little Bird Demonstrator - A civilian 530F modified by Boeing Rotorcraft Systems to develop UAV technologies for both civilian and military applications.

500N - NOTAR version of the 500E, certified in 1991.


Military export version of the 500 have been marketed under the Defender name, and include the 500M, 500MD, 500MG, and 530MG.


Argentina - Argentine Air Force

Belgium - Federal Police

Chile - Chilean Army

Costa Rica - Air Surveillance Service

Finland - Finnish Army 12 helicopters, 8 still in use

Croatia - 4 helicopters, all retired

El Salvador - 5 helicopters

Democratic People's Republic of Korea - Korean People's Air Force 87 in service

Hungary - Hungarian Police

Iceland - Icelandic Coast Guard


Japan - Japan Ground Self Defense Force ,numerous "Little Birds" used on "Pink Teams" in conjunction with AH-1 Cobra Attack Helicopters. Training is conducted at JGSDF Akeno near Nagoya. Hughes 500 series aircraft are an integral part of the JGSDF army air force and are stationed on various JGSDF installations throughout the country. Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ,five MD 500Es for Trainer


Republic of Korea - Republic of Korea Army 257 in service

Mexico - Mexican Air Force


Spain - Spanish Navy

United States - Aerial Support to Regional Enforcement Agencies(ASTREA): the San Diego County Sheriff's Department's aviation division. Anaheim, California: owns one, nicknamed "Angel One" after the city's baseball team, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Blackwater Worldwide (private military and security company), Bussmann Aviation, Cleveland, Ohio Police Department, owns two helicopters. Columbus Division of Police(Ohio), six helicopters, Costa Mesa(California) Police Department: has at least one MD-500. Houston Police Department (Texas) Helicopter Division operates MD-500s and other equipment, Huntington Beach, California Police Department, owns two helicopters. Las Vegas, Nevada: Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department operates three MD 530Fs and one Hughes 500D.They plan to use a portion of their federal forfeiture fund to replace the 500D. Jefferson Co/Louisville Metro Kentucky, five total helicopters. Orange County Sheriff's Department(California):has two MD-500s, nicknamed "Duke One" and "Duke Two", in honor of actor John Wayne and his nickname "Duke". Pomona, California: the Pomona Police Department has just acquired a new MD-500 for patrol duties after recently reviving its Aviation Division after 15 years. Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority. Riverside, California: Riverside Police Department Aviation Support Unit operates one MD 500E. U.S. Customs and Border Protection


Model 500C

General characteristics
Crew: 1-2
Capacity: 5 total
Length: 30 ft 10 in (9.4 m)
Rotor diameter: 26 ft 4 in (8.03 m)
Height: 8 ft 2 in (2.48 m)
Empty weight: 1,088 lb (493 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 2,250 lb (1,157 kg)
Powerplant: 1× One Allison 250-C20 Turboshaft, 278 hp (207 kW)

Maximum speed: 152 knots (175 mph, 282 km/h)
Cruise speed: 125 kn (144 mph, 232 km/h)
Range: 375 mi (605 km)
Service ceiling: 16,000 ft (4,875 m)
Rate of climb: 1,700 ft/min (8.6 m/s)

MD 520N

General characteristics
Crew: 1-2
Capacity: 5 total
Length: 33 ft 2 in (9.78 m)
Rotor diameter: 27 ft 4 in (8.33 m)
Height: 9 ft 0 in (2.74 m)
Disc area: 586.8 ft² (54.5 m²)
Empty weight: 1,636 lb (742 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 3,350 lb (1,520 kg)
Powerplant: 1× One Allison 250-C20R Turboshaft, 375 hp (280 kW)

Maximum speed: 152 knots (175 mph, 282 km/h)
Cruise speed: 135 kn (155 mph, 250 km/h)
Range: 267 mi (429 km)
Service ceiling: 14,175 ft (4,320 m)
Rate of climb: 1,850 ft/min (9.4 m/s)

MD 530F

General characteristics
Crew: 1-2
Capacity: 5 total
Length: 32 ft 7 in (9.94 m)
Rotor diameter: 27 ft 4 in (8.33 m)
Height: 8 ft 9 in (2.48 m)
Disc area: 587.5 sq ft (54.6 sq m)
Empty weight: 1,591 lb (722 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 3,100 lb (1,610 kg)
Powerplant: 1× One Allison 250-C30 Turboshaft, 375 hp (280 kW)

Maximum speed: 152 knots (175 mph, 282 km/h)
Cruise speed: 135 kn (155 mph, 250 km/h)
Range: 232 nmi (267 mi, 430 km)
Service ceiling: 18,700 ft (5,700 m)
Rate of climb: 2,070 ft/min (10.5 m/s)

Last updated April 15, 2009
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "MD Helicopters MD 500".
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