Eurocopter AS350

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AS350 Écureuil/AStar
RAN squirrel helicopter at melb GP 08.jpg
An AS350BA Squirrel of the Royal Australian Navy Fleet Air Arm at the 2008 Melbourne Grand Prix
Role Light utility helicopter
National origin France
Manufacturer Aérospatiale
Airbus Helicopters
First flight 26 June 1974
Introduction 1975
Status Active in production
Primary users Brazilian Air Force
Australian Defence Force
Royal Jordanian Air Force
Produced 1975 - present
Unit cost
~US$2.0M, €1.5M (AS350 B2)
~US$2.3M, €1.75M (AS350 B3)
Variants Eurocopter AS355
AS550 Fennec
Developed into Eurocopter EC130

The Eurocopter AS350 Écureuil (Squirrel) is a single-engine light helicopter originally designed and manufactured in France by Aérospatiale (now Airbus Helicopters). In North America, the AS350 is marketed as the AStar. The AS355 Ecureuil 2 is a twin-engine variant, marketed in North America as the TwinStar. The Eurocopter EC130 is a derivative of the AS350 airframe and is considered to be part of the Écureuil single-engine family.[1]

Design and development[edit]

In the early 1970s, Aérospatiale began development to replace the aging Alouette II design. The result was the AS350 design. The first prototype, powered by a Lycoming LTS101 turboshaft made its maiden flight on 27 June 1974, with the second prototype, powered by a Turbomeca Arriel 1A following on 14 February 1975.[2] The Arriel powered version, the AS350B, intended for sale throughout the world except for North America, was certified in France on 27 October 1977, while the Lycoming powered AS350C (or AStar) was certified by the US Federal Aviation Administration on 21 December 1977. Customer deliveries began in March 1978 for the AS350B and April 1978 for the AS350C.[3]

Operational history[edit]

On 14 May 2005, an AS350 B3 piloted by Eurocopter test pilot Didier Delsalle touched down on the top of Mount Everest, at 8,848 m (29,030 ft).[4][5][6][7] This record has been confirmed by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale.[8] On 29 April 2010, a stripped-down AS350 B3 succeeded in rescuing three alpinists from Annapurna I, Nepal, at 8,091 metres, one at a time, the highest such rescue.[9]

The Helicópteros do Brasil (Helibras) subsidiary of Eurocopter signed a contract for a major upgrade program on the Brazilian Army’s fleet of 36 AS350 Ecureuils.[10]


A Canadian AS350 BA AStar
An AS350B of the French Gendarmerie nationale.
Mount Hotham snow fields AS350 B3
A Eurocopter AS350 dips its bucket into a swimming pool before returning to drop the water on a wildfire outside of Naples, Italy
AS350 Firefighter
Fire fighting version.
Powered by one Turbomeca Arriel 1B engine.
AS350 B1
Improved version of the original AS350B, which is powered by one Arriel 1D engine, type also fitted with AS355 main rotor blades, AS355 tail rotor with tabs and a tail rotor servo.
AS350 B2
Higher gross weight version powered by one Arriel 1D1 engine over the B1 version with aerodynamic strake fitted to tail boom along the starboard side and angled engine exhaust duct for better yaw control.
AS350 B3
High-performance version, is powered by an Arriel 2B engine equipped with a single channel (DECU) Digital Engine Control Unit with a mechanical backup system. This helicopter is the first ever to land on the summit of Mount Everest. AS350 B3/2B1 variant introduces enhanced engine with dual channel (FADEC) Full Authority Digital Engine Control, dual hydraulics and a 2,370 kg (5,225 lb) Maximum Take Off Weight. AS350 B3e (introduced late 2011) equipped with the Arriel 2D engine.
AS350 BA
Powered by a Arriel 1B engine and fitted with wider chord AS355 main rotor blades and tail rotor servo.
AS350 BB
AS350 B2 variant selected to meet rotary-wing training needs of UK MoD, through its Defence Helicopter Flying School in 1996. Powered by a derated Arriel 1D1 engine to improve the helicopters' life cycle.
Eurocopter Squirrel HT.1
Designation of AS350BB in operation with British RAF as a training helicopter.
Eurocopter Squirrel HT.2
Designation of AS350BB in operation with British Army Air Corps as a training helicopter.
AS350 C
Initial variant of Lycoming LTS-101-600A2 powered version developed for the North American market as the AStar. Quickly superseded by AS350D.
AS350 D
Powered by one Lycoming LTS-101 engine for the North American market as the AStar. At one stage marketed as AStar 'Mark III.'
AS350 L1
Military derivative of AS350 B1, powered by a 510kW (684shp) Turbomeca Arriel 1D turboshaft engine. Superseded by AS350 L2.
AS350 L2
Military derivative of AS350 B2, powered by a 546kW (732shp) Turbomeca Arriel 1D1 turboshaft engine. Designation superseded by AS550 C2.
HB350 B Esquilo
Unarmed military version for the Brazilian Air Force. Brazilian designations CH-50 and TH-50. Built under licence by Helibras in Brazil.
HB350 B1 Esquilo
Unarmed military version for the Brazilian Navy. Brazilian designation UH-12. Built under licence by Helibras in Brazil.
HB350 L1
Armed military version for the Brazilian Army. Brazilian designation HA-1. Built under licence by Helibras in Brazil.

Aftermarket conversions[edit]

Soloy SD1, Super D
AS350 BA powered by an LTS101-600A-3A engine.
Soloy AllStar
AS350 BA powered by a Rolls Royce 250-C30 engine.
Soloy SD2
AS350 B2 powered by an LTS101-700D-2 engine.
Heli-Lynx 350FX1
AS350 BA powered by an LTS101-600A-3A engine.
Heli-Lynx 350FX2
AS350 BA or AS350 B2 powered by an LTS101-700D-2 engine.
Otech AS350BA+
AS350 BA powered by an LTS101-600A-3A engine.[11]


AS350 B2 operated by Heliflite picking up hikers in Enontekiö, Finland.

The AS350 is in service around the world operated by private individuals, airline and charter operators, emergency medical teams, governments and law enforcement agencies.

Military and government operators[edit]

AS.350BB Squirrel HT1 of the (UK) Defence Helicopter Flying School
 Central African Republic
 South Africa
 United Kingdom
 United States

Notable achievements and accidents[edit]

  • On 14 May 2005, a Ecureuil AS350B3 piloted by Didier Delsalle landed at about 8,848 meters on the top of the Mount Everest. As required by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, the aircraft remained on the summit longer than 2 minutes before returning to Lukla. He actually landed on the summit two times.[4] He only needed to land for two minutes to officially set the record, but he stayed for about four minutes twice.[4] The flight set rotorcraft world records, for highest of both landing and take-off.[8] Delsalle also rescued two Japanese climbers at 4,877 meters (16,000 feet), and one climber noted that the flight meant a better chance of rescue, though the pilot mentioned "The thought of rescuing climbers was one of the things that motivated me to do this project. But the forces I encountered were so powerful that to guarantee a safe flight you'd have to design a more powerful copter".[4]
  • On 14 December 2004 an AS350-B3 medical transport helicopter operated by Air Evac of Arizona crashed on final approach while attempting to land on an emergency scene in Apache Junction, Arizona. Flight Medic Doreen Renee Johnson, 26, was killed on impact. The pilot Susanna Corcoles and Flight Nurse Kelly Foster-Stopka sustained serious but non life-threatening injuries.[29]
  • On 27 July 2007, two AS350s collided in mid-air while reporting a police pursuit. The two helicopters were part of KNXV-TV and KTVK television stations in Phoenix, Arizona. Four crew members were killed in this accident.[30]
  • On 15 September 2007, former World Rally Championship driver Colin McRae and three passengers were killed when his AS350 B2 Squirrel,[31] which he was piloting, crashed near Lanark, Scotland.[32][33]
  • On 8 August 2009, a Piper PA-32R collided with an AS350 over the Hudson River, with both aircraft crashing into the Hudson River. There were no survivors from the crash.
  • On 29 April 2011, a Pawan Hans AS350 B-3 helicopter carrying Dorjee Khandu, the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, and four other people, went missing. It was traced four days later near Lobthang. All five people were found dead
  • On 26 August 2011, an AS350 B2 emergency helicopter crashed near Mosby, Missouri, due to lack of fuel, killing all 4 people on board. Its rotor speed was not recovered within the mandatory 2 seconds.[34][35]
  • On 10 June 2012, an AS350 B3e[36] belonging to the Kenya Police Air Wing crashed in Kibiku area in Ngong Forest, west of Nairobi, Kenya, killing at least six people, including Kenya's Interior Security Minister George Saitoti and his deputy Orwa Ojode.[37][38]
  • On 31 March 2013, an AS350 B3 Astar belonging to the Alaska State Troopers crashed[39] near Talkeetna, Alaska, killing all three aboard. The helicopter, piloted by Mel Nading, 55, of Anchorage, was on a rescue mission to recover injured snowmobiler Carl Ober, 56, of Talkeetna. The crash also claimed the life of Alaska State Trooper Tage Toll, a former Kansas state highway patrolman.
  • On 22 October 2013, an AS350 B3 medical transport helicopter operated by Memphis, Tennessee, based Hospital Wing crashed near Somerville, Tennessee, while en route to Bolivar, Tennessee. Three personnel onboard (one Hospital Wing pilot and the medial team of one flight nurse and one respiratory therapist from Le Bonheur Children's Hospital) were killed in the accident.[40]
  • On 18 March 2014, an AS350 B2 owned by Helicopters Inc. and being used as a temporary replacement by KOMO-TV and KING-TV in Seattle, Washington, crashed across the street from the Fisher Plaza while attempting to take off from the rooftop of the studios of KOMO. The two people on board, pilot Gary Pfitzner and photographer Bill Strothman, were killed. The sole occupant of a passenger car onto which the helicopter fell was severely burned and taken to Harborview Medical Center. Two additional vehicles caught fire from the burning fuel, but the drivers escaped injury. According to eyewitnesses and security camera recordings, the helicopter yawed 360 degrees and pitched down while attempting to lift off the helipad.[41]
  • On 9 April 2014, a new AS350 B3E in medical service owned by Petroleum Helicopters Inc. crashed departing the rooftop helipad at University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The pilot and two medical crew members survived. Eyewitnesses reported the aircraft rose 25 to 30 feet from the helipad and pitched to the right, coming to rest with the tail over the edge of the roof, with the cabin, largely intact, on its right side.[42]
  • On 7 June 2014, a Helibrás HB-350BA crashed after takeoff, in Aruanã, Goiás state, Brazil. All on board died, including retired soccer player Fernandão.[43]
  • On 9 March 2015, two AS350B3 collided mid air in La Rioja Province, Argentina, killing all 10 people on board both aircraft. The passengers, including a number of French athletes, were participants in the filming of French reality television program Dropped.

Specifications (AS350 B3)[edit]

Data from Brassey's World Aircraft & Systems Directory 1999/2000[44]

General characteristics


Vehicle and Engine Monitoring Display (VEMD) with First Limit Indicator (FLI) fitted as standard.

† 4, 5, & 6 passengers options available.[46] The 6 passenger configuration is a relatively uncommon high-density seating option that replaces one front seat with a two person bench and the pilot relocated to the left side of the cockpit.[47]

See also[edit]

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists


  1. ^ Fabre, François et. al., Final Report: Eurocopter AS350 Ecureuil/Single Engine Family, Revision 4. European Aviation Safety Agency. June 8, 2012. Accessed on 31 July 2014.
  2. ^ Jackson 2003, p. 244.
  3. ^ Taylor 1982, p. 56.
  4. ^ a b c d "Landing on Air". National Geographic Adventure. 2005-09-01. Retrieved 2009-06-24. 
  5. ^ The Helicopter land on Everest with video
  6. ^ "French Everest Mystery Chopper's Utopia summit". 2005-05-27. 
  7. ^ Official video of the feat of May 14, 2005 on YouTube, without music on YouTube
  8. ^ a b "FAI Record ID #11596 - Highest take-off" Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI). Retrieved: 20 September 2014.
  9. ^ "Helicopter Rescues in Everest’s Western CWM?". Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  10. ^ AS350'lere elixir of youth – SavunmaSanayi.Net
  11. ^ Reyno, Mike, "Power Play", Vertical December 2006
  12. ^ "Ecureuil scores success in South America". Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  13. ^ "Control and Prevention". Retrieved 18 December 2012. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "World Air Forces 2013". Flightglobal Insight. 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
  15. ^ "World Air Forces 2015 pg. 11". Flightglobal Insight. 2015. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  16. ^ "R.C.M.P Helicopter". Retrieved 2005-01-26. 
  17. ^ "Central-African-Republic AS-350B-Ecureuil". Demand media. Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  18. ^ "French National Gendarmerie AS350 ecureuil". Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  19. ^ "Iceland CG Aircraft". Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  20. ^ Warnes, Alan (October 2013). "Qasim – In the Thick of the Action". AirForces Monthly: 100–103. 
  21. ^ Про вертолеты Eurocopter Министерства обороны России
  22. ^ Eurocopter Southern Africa
  23. ^ "FB Heliservices Ltd. clocks up 250,000 Flight Hours with Eurocopter AS350 BB ‘Squirrel’ Fleet". Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  24. ^ "Southwest Border Region/ CPB". Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  25. ^ "CPB AS 350". Demand media. Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  26. ^ Why Is That LAPD Helicopter Circling Overhead?
  27. ^ "LASD Aero Bureau". Retrieved 3 September 2014. 
  28. ^
  29. ^ "One Killed, 2 Injured When Arizona AirEvac Helicopter Crashes". 14 December 2004. 
  30. ^
  31. ^ Civil Aviation Authority
  32. ^ "Colin McRae feared dead in helicopter crash - police". Yahoo! News/AFP. Retrieved 2007-09-16. [dead link]
  33. ^ Rose, Gareth; Watson, Jeremy (16 September 2007). "Rally ace Colin McRae dies in helicopter crash". Edinburgh: The Scotsman. Retrieved 2007-09-16. 
  34. ^ Veillette, Patrick. "Rotorcraft Safety: No Margin for Error. Autorotation — do it quickly and do it right" Aviation Week & Space Technology, 1 July 2014. Accessed: 20 September 2014. Archived on 20 September 2014
  35. ^ "Mosby Presentation" NTSB
  36. ^ Mukinda, Fred and Silas Apollo. "Chopper was 'new and powerful'". Daily Nation. 10 June 2012. Retrieved 13 June 2012.
  37. ^ "Kenyan minister George Saitoti killed in helicopter crash". BBC News. 10 June 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2012.
  38. ^ "Minister killed in Kenyan helicopter crash". 10 June 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2012.
  39. ^ "Investigation begins into helicopter crash that killed three." Anchorage Daily News . 1 April 2013. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  40. ^
  41. ^ "WPR14FA137 — Preliminary Accident Report". 2014-03-21. Retrieved 2014-03-21. 
  42. ^ "Helicopter crashes at UNM Hospital; no reported injuries". 2014-04-09. Retrieved 2014-04-09. 
  43. ^ "Former Brazil and Internacional striker Fernandão dies in helicopter crash". 2014-06-07. Retrieved 2014-06-07. 
  44. ^ Taylor 1999, p. 377.
  45. ^ Fuselage length
  46. ^
  47. ^
  • Hoyle, Craig. "World Air Forces Directory". Flight International. Vol 180 No 5321, 13–19 December 2011. pp. 26–52.
  • Jackson, Paul. Jane's All The World's Aircraft 2003–2004. Coulsdon, Surry, UK: Jane's Information Group, 2003. ISBN 0-7106-2537-5.
  • Taylor, John W. R. Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1982–83. London: Jane's Yearbooks, 1982. ISBN 0-7106-0748-2.
  • Taylor, Michael J. H. Brassey's World Aircraft & Systems Directory 1999/2000. London:Brassey's, 1999. ISBN 1-85753-245-7.

External links[edit]