MD Helicopters
MD Helicopters
Mesa, Arizona
Phone Number
(480) 346-6300

MD Helicopters

MD Helicopters traces its roots back to 1955 when the Hughes Tool Company's Aircraft Division began studying and developing light helicopters. After more than six decades and a series of mergers and divestments, it was recapitalized as an independent company in 2005. Since then, the light rotorcraft manufacturer has grown its global fleet presence to more than 2,500 operational aircraft.

Early civilian rotorcraft produced by the Aircraft Division included the Hughes 269, 300, 500, and 530F. After successes in both the civil and military rotorcraft domains, the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter chiefly among them, Hughes sold its helicopters division to McDonnell Douglas in 1984. In 1997, McDonnell Douglas and Boeing merged their businesses, becoming the Boeing Company. 

Only two years later, in 1999, Boeing sold the commercial rotorcraft lines formerly produced by McDonnell Douglas to MD Helicopter Holdings, an umbrella company of Dutch RDM Holding. While Boeing retained production of the AH-64 and rights to the NOTAR no tail rotor system, MD Helicopter Holdings now owned production of the MD 500E, 530F, 520N, and 600N, as well as the MD Explorer series of twin-engine rotorcraft.

In July 2005, Lynn Tilton, the founder and then owner of Patriarch Partners, LLC, acquired MD Helicopter Holdings. That same year, MD Helicopters was officially recapitalized, with a headquarters in Mesa, Arizona.

In early 2020, Tilton relinquished control of MD Helicopters and other portfolio companies of Patriarch Partners following rulings by a Delaware bankruptcy court. MD is continuing normal operations.

Civilian rotorcraft currently in production include the MD 500E, 530F, 520N, 600N, and MD 902 Explorer. The 500 series—derived from the OH-6 military rotorcraft—is the company’s strongest seller, with variants in service in both military and civilian roles.