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NHIndustries NH90

It took a long time to develop this helicopter, the NATO Helicopter for the 1990s, hence NH90. While it was launched in 1985, only in 2007 the first examples became operational. And even now, there are still debates about performance issues and operating costs. Still, it is a helicopter you are likely to encounter.

The NH90 is a medium-size helicopter, of which a land and naval version were developed. The appearance is quite conventional, with some exceptions. The first exception is the sharp transition between the upper and lower part of the fuselage, that runs from the nose to the tail boom like the 'bone line' styling of a car. Another characteristic is the tail boom, that end flat, when seen from above. Other features of the NH90 are a four-blade main rotor, a long engine/gar box housing with air intakes at the top, a rear loading ramp and a four-blade tail rotor at the top of the vertical stabiliser. There is a low-mounted, strut-braced horizontal stabiliser with a modest dihedral on the right side. The retractable gear has two wheels at the nose gear and single wheels on the main gears. The latter retract in small sponsons.

The "bone line", where the side of the fuselage curves sharply, is one of the main recognition points of the NH90, as few other helicopters have it this distinctively.

The tail rotor of the NH90 is placed at the top of the vertical stabiliser, where it is ticker than the rest. Note the strut-braced horizontal stabiliser with slight dihedral.

Different versions

How to distinguish the different versions of the NH90 will be added later.

Confusion possible with

Leonardo AW149/AW189

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The AW149/AW189 is similar in size as the NH90, and has a 'bone line', a twin wheel nose and single wheel main gear as well. But there are many differences: a longer nose, five-blade main rotor, a tail rotor on the right side and bent up tips of the horizontal stabilisers.

Airbus Helicopters H175

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The slightly smaller Airbus H175 also has a 'bone line', but less pronounced, and a two wheeled nose gear. However, this helicopter has a relatively large engine/gear box housing (creating a 'waterhead' appearance), a five-blade main rotor and a three-blade tail rotor. Finally, it has no rear loading ramp. (photo: Airwolfhound/WikiMedia)

Bell 525 Relentless

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This slender helicopter has a five-blade main rotor like the others confusion candidates, as well as a similar landing gear. And like the others the Bell 525 also lacks a rear loading ramp. Moreover, it has a large pylon on top of the engine/gear box housing. (photo: Zane Adams/WikiMedia)

AS332 Super Puma & AS532 Cougar

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Typical for the AS332 and AS532 (and later EC225/EC725/H225) is the location of the engines: at the front of the engine/gear box housing with the intakes above the cockpit. That makes it already significantly different from the NH90, as is the five-blade tail rotor on the right and high-mounted horizontal fin on the left.