Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin

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SA 365 Dauphin 2
AS365 Dauphin
ZJ780 (8490634574).jpg
An Army Air Corps Dauphin 2 landing at Glasgow Airport
Role transport/utility helicopter
National origin France
Manufacturer Aérospatiale
Airbus Helicopters
First flight 24 January 1975
Introduction December 1978
Status In service
Primary users Pawan Hans
Maryland State Police
Produced 1975–present
Number built 1,000+[1]
Unit cost
<US$10M, €7.5M
Developed from Aérospatiale SA 360
Variants Eurocopter HH-65 Dolphin
Eurocopter AS565 Panther
Harbin Z-9
Developed into Eurocopter EC 155

The Airbus Helicopters AS365 Dauphin (Dolphin), formerly known as the Aérospatiale SA 365 Dauphin 2 and the Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin, is a medium-weight multipurpose twin-engine helicopter currently produced by Airbus Helicopters. It was originally developed and manufactured by French firm Aérospatiale, which was merged into the multinational Eurocopter company during the 1990s. Since entering production in 1975, the type has been in continuous production for more than 40 years. The intended successor to the Dauphin is the Airbus Helicopters H160, which is yet to enter operational service as of March 2015.[2]

The Dauphin 2 shares many similarities with the Aérospatiale SA 360, a commercially unsuccessful single-engine helicopter; however the twin-engine Dauphin 2 did meet with customer demands and has been operated by a wide variety of civil and military operators. Since the type's introduction in the 1970s, several major variations and specialised versions of the Dauphin 2 have been developed and entered production, including the military-oriented Eurocopter Panther, the air-sea rescue HH/MH-65 Dolphin, the Chinese-manufactured Harbin Z-9 and the modernised Eurocopter EC155.


The SA 365/AS365 Dauphin 2 is a twin-engine development of the commercially unsuccessful single-engined Aérospatiale SA 360 Dauphin; Aerospatiale had quickly recognized that a platform powered by two engines rather than one was better suited to both civil and military operations.[3] In January 1975, the first twin-engine Dauphine prototype performed its first flight; deliveries of production models began later that decade. The initial production variant entered service under the original designation of SA 365C; this model was soon succeeded by the more capable SA 365 N in 1982. Amongst several major design changes and improvements, the SA 365 N featured more powerful engines, greater use of composite materials, a better cabin arrangement, and retractable landing gear.[3][4]

A Dauphin in flight, 2010

Further improvements were made with the introduction of the SA 365 N1, which had a substantially redesigned Fenestron anti-torque device, and with the SA 365 N2, which was equipped with more powerful Turbomeca Arriel 1C2 turboshaft engines.[4] In January 1990, the overall type was formally redesignated as the AS365. The AS365 Dauphin is one of Eurocopter's more successful helicopter designs; and has been widely used as a corporate transport, airborne law enforcement platform, emergency medical services (EMS) helicopter, electronic news gathering platform, and search & rescue helicopter.[citation needed]

The base Dauphin has been further developed into several purpose-built variants. A militarised version of the Dauphin for utility, troop-transport, and maritime operations is the Eurocopter Panther. A variant of the Dauphin was specifically developed for and operated principally by the United States Coast Guard under the designation HH/MH-65 Dolphin. The Dauphin is also manufactured in China under licence as the Z-9 by the Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation; the Z-9 was subsequently developed into the armed WZ-9 and Z-19 attack helicopter.[citation needed]


Eurocopter AS365 N2 cockpit

The AS365 Dauphin is a twin-engine helicopter capable of travelling long ranges, and well suited to operating in climates of a high ambient temperature or at locations of significant altitude. The Dauphin is typically powered by a pair of Turbomeca Arriel turboshaft engines; on later variants, these are equipped with FADEC units, which provide additional functionality such as an automated start-up sequence and a training mode.[5] The engines drive the rotorcraft's foldable Starflex main rotor which and its Fenestron anti-torque tail rotor via two separate transmissions; these gearboxes are also connected to two separate hydraulic systems as well as a stand-by hydraulic system for emergency use, such as deployment of the landing gear.[5] Electrical power is provided by a pair of starter generators and a cadmium-nickel main battery, an emergency battery is also present.[5]

The main fuselage of the rotorcraft comprises the cabin area, a separate luggage compartment, and a retractable tricycle landing gear arrangement; a total of four conventional doors to access the main cabin are typically installed, which can be optionally replaced by a single clamshell air stair entrance instead.[6] Various portions of the rotorcraft are made from composite materials, such as the rotor blades that made of carbon fiber, other materials are used in portions of the fuselage.[5] The fuselage features anti-corrosion protection, and is structurally reinforced for an optional hoist or cargo sling to be installed, various other mooring and gripping points are also fitted on the rotocraft's exterior surface.[5] Various types and models of radar can be installed in the Dauphin's nose.[5]

The combination of the rotorcraft's Starflex main rotor and Fenestron tail provides a low-noise and low-vibration flight experience for those on board; Airbus Helicopters has claimed the sound emissions of the AS365 N3 to be 3.1 decibels below International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards, making it the quietest helicopter in its class.[5][7] The Dauphin can take off under a full load from sea level under Category A conditions.[7] The main cabin area is designed to be reconfigurable, a feature which is promoted to emergency medical service (EMS) and search and rescue (SAR) operators. In a regular passenger transport layout, the cabin can accommodate up to 12 passengers in addition to the two pilots; up to seven passengers can be accommodated in a VIP layout.[7] Access to the cabin is via large sliding doors on either side of the helicopter, built-in boarding steps are typically installed to ease the boarding of passengers.[8]

While the cockpit is typically equipped with dual flight controls for two-man operations, the Dauphin can be readily flown by a single pilot while operating under instrument flight rules; this was achieved in part by avionics such as the 4-axis Dual Digital Automatic Flight Control System (older production aircraft use a 3-axis flight control system with integrated autopilot instead[9]) to reduce crew workload.[10] The principle flight control system are connected to a total of 3 dual-chamber primary servo-units for cyclical and collective pitch control, and a single dual-chamber rear servo-unit for tail rotor pitch control.[5] Other major avionics include 10.4-inch multi-mission touch screen displays, weather radar, global positioning system (GPS) receiver, traffic alert and collision avoidance system (TCAS), automatic voice alarm device (AVAD), health and usage monitoring system (HUMS), quick access records for helicopter flight data management, and digital audio communication system (DACS).[7]

Operational history[edit]

By 1980, a total of 265 AS360/361/365 Dauphins had been delivered, 88% of these deliveries were to foreign customers in a total of 23 different nations.[11] Amongst the biggest early customers for the type was Saudi Arabia, which ordered 24 Dauphins, and Angola, with an order for 17 Dauphins.[12] In February 1991, it was announced that the 500th Dauphin had been delivered to Bond Helicopters, who at that time operated a total of 15 of the type, with additional Dauphins on order. By 1991, the Dauphin was being operated by 138 customers across 44 nations.[13]

In December 2006, Eurocopter president Fabrice Brégier stated that between 30 and 40 Dauphins were being delivered each year.[14] By 2011, more than 1,000 AS365/366/565 versions had been produced; Indian operator Pawan Hans took delivery of the 1,000th Dauphin produced in April 2011, at which point the type was reportedly in service with over 300 operators worldwide.[1][15]

Between 2009 and 2012, the Army Air Corps of the United Kingdom took delivery of five Dauphins, these were assigned to No. 658 Squadron AAC to replace four AgustaWestland A109 helicopters being used to support Special Air Service (SAS) operations.[16]

As of 2014, the AS365 N variant of the Dauphin holds the world speed record for a 3 km course, set at 372 km/h in 1991.[17]


French Navy AS365 F Dauphin rescue helicopter on the deck of the Charles De Gaulle carrier, June 2004

Civil variants[edit]

SA 365 C
A twin-engined version of the Dauphin, designated as the Dauphin 2, was announced in early 1973. The first prototype's first flight took place on 24 January 1975; production model deliveries began in December 1978. In comparison with the earlier model, the SA 365 C featured twin 470 kW (630 shp) Arriel 1 turboshafts in a new engine fairing, a Starflex main rotor hub and a higher maximum take-off weight (3,400 kg or 7,495 lb). Its Fenestron anti-torque device featured 13 metal blades. Production of both the SA 360 and SA 365 C ceased in 1981, by which time approximately 40 SA 360s and 50 SA 365 C/C1s had been built; both were replaced by the SA 365 N.
SA 365 C1
Minor upgrade of the SA 365 C powered by Arriel 1A1.
AS365 N (originally SA 365 N)
A much improved version of the SA 365 C Dauphin 2, the first prototype flying on 31 March 1979. This version introduced the uprated 492 kW (660 shp) Arriel 1C turboshafts, a retractable tricycle undercarriage, enlarged tail surfaces, and revised transmission, main rotor, rotor mast fairing and engine cowlings. The aircraft's initial M.T.O.W. of 3,850 kg (8,490 lb) was later raised to 4,000 kg (8,800 lb). Deliveries of the production model began in 1982.
AS365 N1
Incorporating many of the improvements developed for the SA 366 G1 (HH-65 Dolphin), this version introduced upgraded 526 kW (705 shp) Arriel 1C1 turboshafts, an improved 11-blade Fenestron with wider-cord blades (which reduced the AS365 N1's noise signature), movable undercarriage doors replaced by simplified fairings and a higher gross weight of 4,100 kg (9,000 lb).
AS365 N2
This version – designated AS365 N2 from the outset – introduced the upgraded 549 kW (737 shp) Arriel 1C2 turboshafts, an uprated gearbox, increased maximum take-off weight of 4,250 kg (9,370 lb), redesigned cabin doors and revised interior, enlarged tail fin with all composite Fenestron. Deliveries of this version started in 1990. Licensed versions, called the Z-9 and Z-9A, were assembled in China.
AS365 N3
The high-performance AS365 N3 was developed for operations in 'hot and high' climates, and introduced 635 kW (851 shp) Arriel 2C turboshafts equipped with a single channel DECU (Digital Engine Control Unit) with manual reversion, mated to an uprated main transmission for better single engine performance. The AS365 N3 also features a redesigned ten blade composite Fenestron anti-torque device with asymmetric blade distribution, offering a further reduction in noise signature. The AS365 N3's gross weight is 4,300 kg (9,500 lb). Production deliveries began in December 1998 and this version is currently still in production.
AS365 N4
Produced as the EC155.
AS365 X
Better known as the DGV 200 or Dauphin Grand Vitesse (High Speed Dauphin), the AS365 X was developed from the X-380 DTP (Developpement Technique Probatoire or Probatory Technical Development) testbed, first flown on 20 March 1989.[18] The aircraft was first flown in the AS365 X configuration two years later in March 1991, and featured a smaller Fenestron, a new main rotor with five high-inertia blades with swept tips, a composite rotor hub/mast and 624 kW (837 shp) Turbomeca Arriel IX turboshafts. On 19 November 1991, this aircraft set a Class E1e (3,000 to 4,500 kg) speed record of 201 knots (372 km/h; 231 mph) over a 3 km triangular course.
EC155 B/B1
Eurocopter EC155 B1 at Paris Air Show 2007
Main article: Eurocopter EC 155
This version was originally to follow the N3 as the AS365 N4, and was announced at the 1997 Paris Airshow before being redesignated as the EC155 B. As with the N3 version, it has two Arriel 2C/2C2 turboshafts equipped with FADEC as well as a five blade Spheriflex main rotor (derived from the AS365 X DGV). It also features a 30% larger main cabin (achieved with bulged doors and cabin plugs). The first flight of the first prototype took place on 17 June 1997 and this version is currently in production (as the EC155 B1).

Military versions[edit]

AS565 Panther
MH/HH-65 Dolphin
The SA 366 G1 Dauphin version was selected by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) in 1979 as its new air-sea rescue helicopter and given the designation HH-65A Dolphin.[3] In total 99 helicopters, optimised for the USCG's short-range recovery (SRR) search and rescue role, were initially acquired, with additional aircraft later procured.


All Nippon Helicopter AS365 N2

The Dauphin is flown by a range of private operators, companies, emergency services, government agencies and air charter companies.

Government operators[edit]

 Republic of China
AS365 N2 Dauphin 2 of the Icelandic Coast Guard

Military operators[edit]

Saudi Arabia
 United Kingdom
 United States

Former operators[edit]

A 365F Dauphin 2 of the Irish Air Corps, which were retired in 2006
 South Africa
 Sri Lanka
For other military operators of AS365 Panther and its variants, see Eurocopter AS565 Panther.

Aircraft on display[edit]

Accidents and notable incidents[edit]

On 4 April 2015, an AS365 owned by Orion Corridor Sdn Bhd, crashed in Semenyih near Kajang, Malaysia. All six people on board, including the ex-ambassador of Malaysia to the US and Rompin MP, Tan Jamaluddin Jarjis, and the Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, Datuk Azlin Alias, were killed. The helicopter was coming from a wedding party of the Malaysian Prime Minister's daughter.[41][42]

Specifications (AS365 N3)[edit]

External video
Official Dauphin AS365 History video
Recording of Dauphin landing and taxiing
Cockpit view of engine startup and takeoff

Data from {}[43]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1 or 2 pilots
  • Capacity: 11 passengers
  • Length: 13.73 m (45 ft 1 in)
  • Height: 4.06 m (13 ft 4 in)
  • Empty weight: 2,411 kg (5,315 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 4,300 kg (9,480 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Turboméca Arriel 2C turboshaft, Take-off Power, 625 kW (838 hp) each
  • Main rotor diameter: 11.94 m (39 ft 2 in)
  • Main rotor area: 111.98 m2 (1,205.3 sq ft)


  • Maximum speed: 306 km/h (190 mph; 165 kn)
  • Ferry range: 827 km (514 mi; 447 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 5,865 m (19,242 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 8.9 m/s (1,750 ft/min)

See also[edit]

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



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External links[edit]