First flight of the single-engine,
high-performance, AS 350 B3 Ecureuil
The high-performance version of the single-turbine
Ecureuil helicopter, the AS 350 B3, made its first flight from Marignane
on March 4, 1997 with test-pilot Didier Gurin and flight test engineer Bernard
Certain at the controls. This 70 minute flight demonstrated flawless all-around
operation of the helicopter.
With this latest version of the single-engine Ecureuil, Eurocopter offers
operators more power, greater payload capacity over a broader temperature/altitude
envelope, an augmented sling load capability and higher cruise speed.
Strong points of the AS 350 B3 are its powerplant - an electronically
controlled Turbomeca Arriel 2B - and its modernized instrument panel featuring
dual-color aircraft and engine multifunction displays (VEMDs) to indicate
the status of the main platform and engine parameters.
Other improvements on the AS 350 B3 include engine control via a twistgrip
on the pilots collective-pitch lever, a main gearbox upgraded to 500 kW,
and adoption of the tail rotor used on the twin-engine version.
The Arriel 2B engine develops 847 shp at takeoff and offers the benefits
of electronic engine control, including an automatic start-up sequence and
engine performance optimized to suit outside conditions. Embodying state-of-the-art
technology, with single-crystal turbine blades and a single power stage,
the Arriel 2B provides outstanding reliability and simplified maintenance.
Using symbology that mimics traditional readouts, the VEMD displays the
main engine and vehicle parameters, along with a First Limitation Indication
(FLI). Presenting all relevant information in the form of a symbology display
in conjunction with an FLI-alert audio warning system makes for a substantially
lightened cockpit workload.
The VEMD also performs a number of ancillary functions such as computing
takeoff weights, monitoring engine power, and recording cycles and limit-value
overshoots. The VEMD provides an important safety factor, ensuring more
effective mission execution, especially with external loads.
Maximum takeoff weight of the AS 350 B3 is 2.250 kg with a internal load,
2.750 kg with an external load. This 250 kg increase in external load capacity
compared to the AS 350 B2 means an ability to lift sling-loads of up to
Optional equipment such as a downward-looking window, an electrically
controlled viewing mirror and lefthand piloting make the AS 350 B3 the No.1
choice among light helicopter for sling-load work.
Offering higher speed than the AS 350 B2 and new interior appointments,
the AS 350 B3 additionally possesses the qualities of a business and passenger
French DGAC certification is expected in November of this year with delivery
of the first machines planned for the following month. Three AS 350 B3 have
already been ordered in Europe.
With the AS 350 B3, Eurocopter introduces a high-end addition to its
existing range of single-engine models (AS 350 BA and AS 350 B2) and replaces
the Lama with a remarkably versatile machine offering significantly lower
maintenance costs and fuel consumption.
The Fennec AS 550 single-turbine military version will be powered by
the same Arriel 2B, enabling it to perform observation, fire support or
antitank missions in high-altitude or high-temperature environments.
To date, more than 2,000 single-engine Ecureuil/Fennecs have been sold
in 62 countries to 860 customers representing an aggregate 7.5 million flight
hours of on hand experience.