23-Jun-2011 Source: Eurocopter
Celebrating a helicopter industry icon: Eurocopter honors the Ecureuil familyâ€™s past and present operating excellence, while looking to the future Le Bourget, France, June 23, 2011
Eurocopter is holding a day-long celebration at the Paris Air Show today to mark the Ecureuil helicopter familyâ€™s nearly four decades of operational excellence, bringing together more than 1,000 invited guests â€“ including operators of the rotary-wing aircraft, as well as suppliers, program managers and others.
This event, being held at Le Bourget Airportâ€™s heliport includes the initial delivery of Ecureuilâ€™s latest version â€“ the AS350 B3e â€“ along with informational kiosks that provide details on Eurocopterâ€™s support and services, training and innovation for this product line of helicopters. Also on display is an AS350 in Eurocopterâ€™s Stylence version, which merges ergonomics and advanced technology to provide fully-equipped in-flight offices for business executives and companies
â€œWe are honoring a helicopter family that has truly earned its reputation as an all-around performer during a career that spans nearly 40 years and which literally has taken it to the highest summits,â€ said Eurocopter President & CEO Lutz Bertling. â€œBut the Ecureuil is not only about history, it is a helicopter that has a bright future ahead of it â€“ especially in todayâ€™s highly challenging operational and economic environments.â€
The Ecureuil family is produced in multiple single- and twin-engine variants: the AS350 B2 and B3e, EC130, AS355 NP and AS550 C3e. All of them share the same family features â€“ excellent performance, high reliability, multi-mission capability, and innovative design. Eurocopterâ€™s latest version is the AS350 B3e, which has a more powerful Turbomeca Arriel 2D turboshaft engine, a new-generation digital Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) and an engine data recorder for condition monitoring. The AS350 B3e received its certification this month from the European EASA civil aviation authorities, and the initial helicopter is being delivered today during the Ecureuil celebration to Mafate Helicopters, based in La RÃ©union, France.
Eurocopterâ€™s Ecureuil made its maiden flight in June 1974, and already was well ahead of its time, reflecting the optimum balance between cost and efficiency â€“ while also keeping the emphasis on operational safety in a full range of missions. This led to a series of technological innovations that included the Starflex main rotor and fiberglass-reinforced plastic blades, along with an advanced tail rotor configuration.
There also was a significant increase in the amount of composite materials used in the airframe for reduced weight, increased corrosion protection and lowered operating costs. Additionally, the Ecureuil had fewer parts when compared to other helicopters of the time, along with the application of simplified assembly procedures.
Ecureuilâ€™s nearly 40-year history has generated some very impressive numbers: more than 5,000 helicopters built, some 22 million total flight hours logged, and record-breaking performance that includes the worldâ€™s highest takeoff â€“ performed with a production Ecureuil operating from Mount Everest at an altitude of 8,850 meters.
These helicopters are being flown in all types of missions: law enforcement, medical airlift, utility, newsgathering, business and private transportation, along with light armed reconnaissance and aerial scout missions in military service.