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EH101 Merlin
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Aerospatiale AS350 B
P-339 Airbus Helicopters AS550 C2 Fennec c/n 2339 - Royal Danish Air Force Esk 724 - Groningen Airport Eelde in Holland - 8 July 2011 Royal Danish Air Force

The Aérospatiale AS550 C2 Fennec is a lightweight, multipurpose military helicopter based on the AS350 B2 Ecureuil. The AS350 B2 is a single-engined utility helicopter that can accommodate up to 7 passengers. Development of the AS 350 Ecureuil started in the early 70s under the Aérospatiale banner. The first flight of an AvcoLycoming LTS101-powered machine took place on 27 June 1994. The second prototype was fitted with an Arriel 1A and took to the air on 14 February 1975. Certification (with a Turboméca Arriel 1B turboshaft powerplant) was achieved on 27 October 1977. The single-engined AS 350B2, powered with a Turbomeca Arriel 1D1 engine was certified in April 1989. The helicopter divisions of MBB from Germany and Aerospatiale from France merged in January 1992 to form the Eurocopter Group. The Eurocopter AS350 B3 is a high-performance version of the AS350 series, powered by a Arriel 2B engine equipped with a single channel (DECU) Digital Engine Control Unit with a mechanical backup system. The AS350 B3, made its first flight from Marignane on 4 March 1997. Latest upgrade of the AS350 is the AS350 B3e (enhanced) version that is fitted with a Turboméca Arriel 2D engine. The AS350 B3e model was approved by the EASA on 17 June 2011 and has next to the new engine, a new interior design, tail rotor improvements and optimised optional equipment. The new console panel’s concept “Multibloc” is installed since aircraft S/N 7218. The AS350 B3e has an upgraded MTOW of 2370 kg when dual hydraulic. Over 5200 AS350 models had been delivered worldwide. The AS 350 is marketed as Ecureuil. The AS350 Ecurieul is also known Squirrel and is marketed as Esquilo in Brazil and AStar in the USA. In the USA, the AS350 is also known as SuperStar. Since March 2015, Airbus Helicopters use 'H125' as marketing designation for the AS350 B3e helicopter and 'H125M' for the AS550 C Fennec helicopter.
The ICAO Aircraft Type Designator for the AS550 / H125M helicopters is AS50.

The military Eurocopter AS550 construction is based on a reinforced high-strength glass fibre and aramid airframe. The helicopter is fitted with sliding doors on each sider. The baggage compartment is installed behind the main cabin and is accessed via a door on the starboard side. A cargo sling, rated at 1,160kg, and a 204kg hoist can be used. Danish Army AS550C2 helicopters are fitted with a wire cutter and armed with the Systems & Electronics HeliTOW sighting system and TOW anti-tank missiles. The armed versions of the AS550 can be fitted with coaxial weapons, rockets, torpedoes and various other munitions.

The helicopter divisions of MBB from Germany and Aerospatiale 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 1987, the Danish Government ordered twelve Aérospatiale AS550 C2 Fennec helicopters for delivery in 1990. The first Fennec destined for Denmark, AS550 C2 c/n 2090, flew first in Marignane as F-ZWCZ on 13 January 1989. All twelve AS5550 C2 helicopters were delivered to Hærens Flyvetjeneste (Danish Army) at Vandel AB between August 1990 and February 1991. In 2003, Flyvestation Vandel closed and both helicopter units operated at that time by Hærens Flyvetjeneste moved to Karup AB, and were combined into Eskadrille 724 Panservaerns Helikopter Kompani that was operated further under Royal Danish Air Force control.
The 1990-built Aérospatiale AS5550 C2 s/n 2339 was delivered as P-339 to Hærens Flyvetjeneste (Danish Army) on 22 February 1991. In 2003, Fennec P-352 was transferred to Eskadrille 724 of the Royal Danish Air Force. The operating base of Esk 724 is Flyvestation Karup. On 8 July 2011, AS550 C2 Fennec P-339 and P-352 were seen at Groningen Airport Eelde in the Netherlands on their way home from Koksijde in Belgium to Flyvestation Skydstrup in Denmark. When seen at Eelde, Fennec P-339 was painted in green RDanAF colours, while P-352 was painted in the old Hæren colours.

page last updated: 30-03-2015
Photo Copyright © Jack Poelstra, the Netherlands

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