The Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters) AS355 Ecureuil 2 (Twin Squirrel) is a twin-engine light helicopter originally manufactured by Aérospatiale in France (later part of Eurocopter Group, now Airbus Helicopters). The AS355 is marketed in North America as the TwinStar.
Development began in the early 1970s to replace the Alouette II, and the first flight took place on 27 June 1974. A twin-engined version, known as the Ecureuil 2, Twin Squirrel, or in North America as the TwinStar, first flew on 28 September 1979. Despite the introduction of the EC130, production of the Eurocopter AS350 and AS355, and the AS550 and AS555 Fennec military versions remains strong.
In July 1998, the Kent Air Ambulance, a AS355 F1 Squirrel, crashed in good weather after colliding with power cables near Burham whilst returning to Rochester Airport following an aborted call to attend a road accident. All three crew - the pilot, Graham Budden, and two paramedics, Tony Richardson and Mark Darby - were killed on impact.
On 20 October 2011, the Eurocopter twin-engine helicopter crashed at 3:45 p.m. (1245 GMT) near the village of Vileity and burst into flames. A Belarus border patrol helicopter crashed Thursday near the Lithuanian border, killing all five people on board, including three members of a television crew, the agency said.