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 Aérospatiale 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.
In October 1986, the 1986-built
SNIAS AS355 F2 Ecureuil 2 s/n 5320 was test flown as F-WZKO. The aircraft was
registered YV-0-KWH-5 with CADAFE (Compañía Anónima de Administración y
Fomento Eléctrico (Venezuela state electricity company) and N35EC in the
USA. After the aircraft returned to France it was converted by
Eurocopter in to an AS355 N and registered F-GMBA with Loc Heli SARL,
Tallard, as operator and SA Sanpaolo Bail, Paris, as owner on 29 January
1999. Loc Heli SARL, Tallard, was registered as owner on 9 August 2007. The registered owner name changed to Loc Heli SAS, Tallard, on 1 February 2011.
However Loc Heli is the registered operator, the helicopter is operated by HdF – Hélicoptères de France, Tallard. On 4 July 2010, Ecureuil II F-GMBA
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.