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Aérospatiale AS350 B
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F-GECM Aérospatiale AS350 BA Ecureuil c/n 1792 - Arkata Aviation 'le Tour de france VIP 4' - Rotterdam The Hague Airport in Holland - 4 July 2010 Rotterdam The Hague Airport (RTM)

The Aérospoatiale AS350 BA 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.

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.

On 2 April 1985, the 1984-built Aérospatiale AS350 B Ecureuil s/n 1792 was registered F-GECM with CM-CIC Bail as owner and entered service with Héli France. On 30 May 1989, ownership of the AS350 B changed to Textron Finance Company; on 6 September 1990 to BNP Bail; on 4 February 1999 to BNP Lease & Citicapital and on 20 September 1999 to Citicapital. The Ecureuil entered service with Trans Helicoptère Service at Lyon-Bron Aeroport. Over the years the AS350 B was modivied in to an AS350 BA. On 15 September 2009, Ecureuil F-GECM was registered with Arkata Aviation, Gzira GRZ, Malta. AS350 BA Ecureuil F-GECM was registered with Societe Aéroparts Maintenance, Nersac, on 4 July 2011 and registration F-GECM was cancelled as exported to Ivory Coast on 6 October 2011. Aérospatiale AS350 BA Ecureuil F-GECM was seen at Rotterdam The Hague Airport in the Netherlands as "VIP 4" when used as VIP transport during Tour de France 2010.

page last updated: 10-10-2011
Photo Copyright © Henk Wadman, Schiedam, the Netherlands

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