There are nearly 80 different types of civil helicopters worldwide, but do you know which categories they belong to? In fact, both the European and American civil aviation authorities (EASA & FAA), base all their new helicopter certifications on the aircraft’s mass and number of passengers to be transported; all of which comes down to just two categories: heavy and light.
The first category, heavy, concerning helicopters with a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) exceeding 7,000 lbs. (3,175 kg), authorises the carrying of ten or more passengers. The future Bell Helicopter 525 Relentless is an example.
The second category, lightweight, applies to helicopters with a mass of less than 7,000 lbs. (3,175 kg), authorises the carrying of up to 9 passengers. The famous Ecureuil, today renamed H125, falls into this category.
Only the European authority has provided an additional third category, called very light rotorcraft, for helicopters of less than 1,320 lbs. (600 kg) mass, with a maximum of two occupants on board. A category to which no helicopter currently belongs.