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AS350 Écureuil/AStar
An AS350BA Squirrel of the Royal Australian Navy Fleet Air Arm at the 2008 Melbourne Grand Prix
Role Light utility helicopter
Manufacturer Aérospatiale
Eurocopter Group
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-engined light helicopter originally manufactured by Aérospatiale in France (now part of Eurocopter Group). The AS350 is marketed in North America as the AStar. The AS355 Ecureuil 2 (marketed in North America as the TwinStar.) is a twin-engined variant, while the Eurocopter EC130 is a derivative of the AS350 airframe.

Design and development

Development began in the early 1970s to replace the Aérospatiale Alouette II, and the first flight took place on 27 June 1974.[1] Despite the introduction of the EC130, production of the Eurocopter AS350 remains strong.

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.[2]

Operational history

On May 14, 2005 an AS350 B3 piloted by Eurocopter test pilot Didier Delsalle touched down on the top of Mt. Everest, at 8,848 m (29,030 ft).[3][4][5] This record has been confirmed by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale.[6]

On April 29, 2010 a stripped-down AS350 B3 succeeded in rescuing three alpinists from Annapurna I, Nepal at 8091 metres 4,877 meters, one at a time, the highest such rescue.[7]


A Canadian AS350 BA AStar

An AS350B of the French Gendarmerie nationale.

Mt. Hotham snow fields AS350 B3

A San Diego Police Department AS350 B3 helicopter

A Eurocopter AS350 dips its bucket into a swimming pool before returning to drop the water on a wildfire outside of Naples, Italy

San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department AS350 B3

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 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

Soloy Super D1
AS350 BA powered by an LTS101-600A-3A engine.
Soloy Super D2
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.[8]


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


Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department AS350 B3

South African Police Service

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

AS.350BB Squirrel HT1 of the (UK) Defence Helicopter Flying School

 Central African Republic
 South Africa
  • South African Police Service[17]
United States

Notable achievements and accidents

  • 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.[21] He only needed to land for two minutes to officially set the record, but he stayed for about four minutes twice.[21] The flight set rotorcraft world records, for highest of both landing and take-off.[22] 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".[21]
  • 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.[23]
  • 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 by this accident.[24]
  • On 15 September 2007, former World Rally Championship driver Colin McRae and three passengers were killed when his AS350 B2 Squirrel,[25] which he was piloting, crashed near Lanark, Scotland.[26][27]
  • 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 10 June 2012, an AS350 B3e[28] 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.[29][30]
  • On 31 March 2013, an AS350 B3 Astar belonging to the Alaska State Troopers crashed[31] 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 enroute 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.[32]

Specifications (AS350 B3)

Data from Brassey's World Aircraft & Systems Directory 1999/2000[33]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Capacity: 5
  • Length: 10.93 m[34] (35 ft 10½ in)
  • Rotor diameter: (35 ft 1 in)
  • Height: 3.14 m (10 ft 3½ in)
  • Disc area: 89.75 m² (966.1 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 1,174 kg (2,588 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 2,250 kg (4,960 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Turbomeca Arriel 2B turboshaft, 632 kW (847 shp)


  • Never exceed speed: 287 km/h (155 knots, 178 mph)
  • Cruise speed: 245 km/h (132 knots, 152 mph)
  • Range: 662 km (357 nmi, 411 mi)
  • Endurance: 4.1 hrs
  • Service ceiling: 4,600 m (15,100 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 8.5 m/s (1,675 ft/min)

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

† 4, 5, & 6 passengers options available.[35] 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.[36]

See also


  2. AS350'lere elixir of youth – SavunmaSanayi.Net
  3. "Landing on Air". National Geographic Adventure. 2005-09-01. Retrieved 2009-06-24. 
  4. The Helicopter land on Everest with video
  5. "French Everest Mystery Chopper's Utopia summit". 2005-05-27. 
  6. Rotorcraft World Records
  7. "Helicopter Rescues in Everest’s Western CWM?". Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  8. Reyno, Mike, "Power Play", Vertical December 2006
  9. "Ecureuil scores success in South America". Retrieved 17-February-2013. 
  10. 10.00 10.01 10.02 10.03 10.04 10.05 10.06 10.07 10.08 10.09 10.10 10.11 10.12 10.13 "World Air Forces 2013". Flightglobal Insight. 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
  11. "R.C.M.P Helicopter". Retrieved 2005-01-26. 
  12. "Central-African-Republic AS-350B-Ecureuil". Demand media. Retrieved 17-February-2013. 
  13. "French National Gendarmerie AS350 ecureuil". Retrieved 17-February-2013. 
  14. "Iceland CG Aircraft". Retrieved 17-February-2013. 
  15. Warnes, Alan (October 2013). "Qasim – In the Thick of the Action". pp. 100–103. 
  16. Про вертолеты Eurocopter Министерства обороны России
  17. Eurocopter Southern Africa
  18. "FB Heliservices Ltd. clocks up 250,000 Flight Hours with Eurocopter AS350 BB ‘Squirrel’ Fleet". Retrieved 17-February-2013. 
  19. "Southwest Border Region/ CPB". Retrieved 17-February-2013. 
  20. "CPB AS 350". Demand media. Retrieved 17-February-2013. 
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 "Landing on Air". National Geographic Adventure. 2005-09-01. Retrieved 2009-06-24. 
  22. Federation Aeronautique Internationale records page. (Search for "Everest" on that page).
  23. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". 14 December 2004. 
  25. Civil Aviation Authority
  26. "Colin McRae feared dead in helicopter crash - police". Yahoo! News/AFP. Retrieved 2007-09-16. [dead link]
  27. Rose, Gareth; Watson, Jeremy (16 September 2007). "Rally ace Colin McRae dies in helicopter crash". Edinburgh: The Scotsman. Retrieved 2007-09-16. 
  28. Mukinda, Fred and Silas Apollo. "Chopper was 'new and powerful'". Daily Nation. 10 June 2012. Retrieved 13 June 2012.
  29. "Kenyan minister George Saitoti killed in helicopter crash". BBC News. 10 June 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2012.
  30. "Minister killed in Kenyan helicopter crash". 10 June 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2012.
  31. "Investigation begins into helicopter crash that killed three." Anchorage Daily News . 1 April 2013. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  33. Taylor 1999, p.377.
  34. Fuselage length
  • Hoyle, Craig. "World Air Forces Directory". Flight International. Vol 180 No 5321, 13–19 December 2011. pp. 26–52.
  • Taylor, Michael J.H. Brassey's World Aircraft & Systems Directory 1999/2000. London:Brassey's, 1999. ISBN 1-85753-245-7.

External links

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