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AS355 Ecureuil 2/TwinStar
An AS355 F2 of Hankyu Airlines at Maishima Heliport, Osaka, Japan
Role Light utility helicopter
Manufacturer Aérospatiale
Eurocopter Group
First flight 3 October 1979
Primary user Chilean Army , Jamaica and Bhutan
Produced 1975 to date
Unit cost ~US$2.9M (AS355 NP VFR)
~US$3.6M (AS355 NP IFR)
Developed from Eurocopter AS350
AS555 Fennec

The Eurocopter AS355 Ecureuil 2 (Twin Squirrel) is a twin-engine light helicopter originally manufactured by Aérospatiale (now part of Eurocopter Group). The AS355 is marketed in North America as the TwinStar.


Design and development

Development began in the early 1970s to replace the Alouette II, and the first flight took place on 27 June 1974.[1] A twin-engined version, known as the Ecureuil 2, Twin Squirrel, or in North America as the TwinStar, first flew on 28 September 1979.[2] Despite the introduction of the EC130, production of the Eurocopter AS350 and AS355, and the AS550 and AS555 Fennec military versions remains strong.

Both single and twin-engined versions have been built under licence by Helibras in Brazil.



Twin engine

AS355N Twin Squirrel
Royal Malaysian Police Air Wing Unit's AS355N Twin Squirrel.
AS355F1 Ecureuil 2
AS 355N in 2006
Prototype of the twin-engined Ecureuil 2 or Twin Squirrel.
AS355 E
Initial production version, powered by two Allison 250 turboshaft engines. Known as the Twin Star in the United States and Canada.
AS355 F
Improved version, fitted with improved rotor blades and systems.
AS355 F1
Powered by the Allison C20F engine. 2,400 kg (5,291 lb) M.T.O.W.
AS355 F2
Powered by the Allison C20F engine with uprated engine and transmission for higher M.T.O.W. (2,540 kg or 5,600 lb), and hydraulic accumulator for better tail rotor control.
AS355 M
Initial armed version of AS355 F1.
AS355 M2
Armed version of AS355 F2. Superseded by AS555 Fennec.
AS355 N Ecureuil 2
Version fitted with two Turbomeca Arrius 1A engines and a Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) system for better M.T.O.W (2,600 kg or 5,732 lb) and better single engine performance. Known as the TwinStar in the United States, tail rotor strake added along starboard side of tail boom for better yaw authority.
AS355 NP Ecureuil 2
Introduced in 2007, this version 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).[3]
HB.355F Ecureuil 2
Licence built in Brazil by Helibras.
HB.355N Ecureuil 2
Licence built in Brazil by Helibras.

Aftermarket conversions

Heli-Lynx 355FX1
Powered by the Allison C20F engine. FAA, TC, and EASA approved.
Heli-Lynx 355FX2
Powered by the Allison C20F engine. FAA,TC and EASA approved.
Heli-Lynx 355FX2R
Powered by the Allison C20R engine. FAA and TC approved.
Starflex AS355F1R
AS355 F1 powered by the Allison C20R engine. FAA, TC and EASA approved.
Starflex AS355F2R
AS355 F2 Powered by the Allison C20R engine with optimised tail rotor blades. FAA, TC and EASA approved.


Military operators

 Trinidad and Tobago

Law Enforcement operators

  • Border Guard operates one AS355NP Ecureuil 2 (based in Pastavy)[13], three on order.
 New Zealand
  • New Zealand Police operate two AS355 F1 helicopters providing air support primarily to the greater Auckland region.
 Trinidad and Tobago
  • Special Anti-Crime Unit of Trinidad & Tobago (SAUTT) ‚ÄĒ operates one AS355 F2 for the Ministry of National Security (Multi-Role, Multi-Mission)
 United States

Civilian operators

Arena Twin Squirrels
 Trinidad and Tobago
  • Briko Air Services - operates one AS355 F2
  • DAP Helic√≥pteros (AS355)[17]
 United Kingdom
  • Arena Aviation own & operate four Twin Squirrels for TV news gathering & aerial filming.[18]
  • CabAir Helicopters operate a number of Twin Squirrel "VIP Version" helicopters.[19]
 Hong Kong
 United States
  • AirMed/Gold Cross EMS operates one TwinStar medical evacuation helicopter.


Accidents and incidents

  • On 22 October 1996, Chelsea Football Club Vice Chairman Matthew Harding together with five companions were killed when their AS355 F1 Squirrel, registration G-CFLT, crashed near Middlewich, Cheshire.[21]
  • In July 1998, the Kent Air Ambulance, a AS355 F1 Squirrel, crashed in good weather after colliding with power cables near Burham whilst returning to Rochester Airport following an aborted call to attend a road accident.[22] All three crew - the pilot, Graham Budden, and two paramedics, Tony Richardson and Mark Darby - were killed on impact.[23] The crash was ultimately attributed to mechanical failure.[24][25]

Specifications (AS355F2)

Cockpit of AS355 F1 Ecureuil 2

Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1988-89 [26]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Capacity: 6
  • Length: 12.94 m (42 ft 5¬Ĺ in)
  • Rotor diameter: 10.69 m (35 ft 0¬ĺ in)
  • Height: 3.14 m (10 ft 3¬Ĺ in)
  • Disc area: 89.75 m¬≤ (966 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 1,305 kg (2,877 lbs)
  • Max takeoff weight: 2,600 kg[27] (5,732 lbs)
  • Powerplant: 2√ó Allison 250-C20F turboshaft, 313 kW (420 shp) each


See also

Related development

Comparable aircraft

Related lists


  1. ^
  2. ^ Taylor 1988, p.61.
  3. ^ Eurocopter Press Release - Eurocopter Upgrades Its Most Affordable Twin, The AS355 Ecureuil/TwinStar
  4. ^ Algerian Air Force Order of Battle. Scramble. 31 March 2009. Retrieved 12 June 2009.
  5. ^ Brazilian Air Force Order of Battle Scramble. 15 April 2009. Retrieved 12 June 2009.
  6. ^ Brazilian Navy Order of Battle Scramble. 11 May 2007. Retrieved 12 June 2009.
  7. ^ Flight 11‚Äď17 November 2008, p.54.
  8. ^ Flight 11‚Äď17 November 2008, p.58.
  9. ^ Flight 11‚Äď17 November 2008, p.59.
  10. ^ Flight 11‚Äď17 November 2008, p.66.
  11. ^ a b Flight 11‚Äď17 November 2008, p.76.
  12. ^ Flugpolizei Website (German!)
  13. ^ Belarusian News Agency BELTA - Ecureuil landed in Minsk-1 (Russian)
  14. ^ An Garda Síochána - Air Support Unit
  15. ^
  16. ^ Kuensel Newspaper - Domestic helicopter service picks up
  17. ^ DAP Helicópteros webpage
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Pilot disorientated on impact". BBC News. Retrieved 2007-09-17.  
  22. ^ "Bulletin No:2/2000 Aerospatiale AS355 F1 Ecureuil II G-MASK". Air Accident Investigation Board.  
  23. ^ "UK Helcopter crash kills three". BBC News. 1998-07-27. Retrieved 4 January 2010.  
  24. ^ "Air ambulance crash pilot cleared". BBC News. 19 February 2004. Retrieved 4 January 2010.  
  25. ^ "Review of pilot death - Graham Budden". Aviation Watch. 1998.  
  26. ^ Taylor 1988, pp.60‚ÄĒ62.
  27. ^ Max slung load

External links


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