The Airbus Helicopters AS355 is a twin-engined light utility helicopter
that can accommodate up to 7 passengers. Development of the Ecureuil
started in the early 70s under the Aérospatiale banner with the
single-engined AS 350. The first flight of an Aerospatiale AS-350 took
place on 27 June 1994. A twin-engine version of the AS350, the AS355
Ecureuil 2 flew first on 28 September 1979. The Eucureuil 2 entered
production as the AS355 E. Early 1982, the AS355 F with a higher max
takeoff weight replaced the AS-355E in production. The AS355 F was
followed by the AS355 F1 in January 1984 and AS355 F2 in December 1985.
The AS355 N recieved the DCAG-F certification on 13 June 1989 and
deliveries of this model started in 1992. The AS355 N is fitted with two
Turbomeca Arrius 1A engines and a Full Authority Digital Engine Control
(FADEC) system for better M.T.O.W and better single engine performance.
The AS355 NP Ecureuil recieved the EASA certification on 15 February
2007. The AS355 NP Ecureuil 2 is fitted with two Turbomeca Arrius 1A1
turboshaft engines and a new AS350 B3-based main gearbox, increasing
maximum take-off weight to 2,800 kg (6,173 lb). The AS355 Ecureuil 2 is
marketed in North America as the 'TwinStar'. The ICAO Aircraft Type
Designator for the AS355 helicopters is AS55.
The helicopter divisions of MBB from Germany and Aérospatiale from France merged in January 1992 to form the Eurocopter Group.
As a result of the merger between the Eurocopter parents Aérospatiale-Matra; DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (DASA)
and Construcciones Aeronàuticas Sociedad Anonima (CASA) in July 2000, the Eurocopter group became a division of the new formed
EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space company). Taking off into 2014, EADS was rebranded as "Airbus Group". Uniting
all its activities under a single brand, its helicopter division Eurocopter was rebranded as Airbus Helicopters on 8 January 2014.
The 1986-built SNIAS AS355 F2
Ecureuil 2 c/n 5358 was registered YV-0-KWH-6 with CADAFE (Compañía
Anónima de Administración y Fomento Eléctrico (Venezuela state
electricity company). Registration N75EC was reserved in the USA, but
not taken up and the aircraft returned to France. In France it was
converted by Eurocopter in to an AS355 N and test flown as F-WQEJ. On 30
June 1999, the AS355 N Ecureuil 2 was registered F-GMBL with Loc Heli
SARL, Tallard, as operator and SA Sanpaolo Bail, Paris, as owner. The
same day, ownership changed to SA ProCredit-Probail, and on 16 February
2000, the F-GMBL was registered with HdF – Hélicoptères de France,
Tallard, as owner. On 7 February 2001, ownership changed to
CitiCapitale and on 17 April 2007 to Loc Heli SARL, Tallard. The
registered owner name changed to Loc Heli SAS, Tallard, on 1 February
2011. However the ownership changed over the years, the F-GMBL is
operated by HdF – Hélicoptères de France, Tallard, ever after 30 June
1999. On 2 July 2010, Ecureuil II F-GMBL was seen at Rotterdam The Hague
Airport in the Netherlands when used as camera-ship on behalve of france
télévisions during Tour de France 2010.