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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.A twin-engined version, known as the Ecureuil 2, Twin Squirrel, or in North America as the TwinStar, first flew on 28 September 1979. 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 Superseded by AS555 Fennec.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 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).
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

Law Enforcement operators

  • Border Guard operates one AS355NP Ecureuil 2 (based in Pastavymarker), three on order.
  • New Zealand Police operate two AS355 F1 helicopters providing air support primarily to the greater Auckland region.

Civilian operators

Arena Twin Squirrels
  • Briko Air Services - operates one AS355 F2
  • DAP Helic√≥pteros (AS355)
  • Arena Aviation own & operate four Twin Squirrels for TV news gathering & aerial filming.
  • CabAir Helicopters operate a number of Twin Squirrel "VIP Version" helicopters.
  • 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 Middlewichmarker, Cheshiremarker.
  • 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. All three crew - the pilot, Graham Budden, and two paramedics, Tony Richardson and Mark Darby - were killed on impact. The crash was ultimately attributed to mechanical failure.

Specifications (AS355F2)

Cockpit of AS355 F1 Ecureuil 2

See also


  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 11-17 November 2008, p.54.
  8. Flight 11-17 November 2008, p.58.
  9. Flight 11-17 November 2008, p.59.
  10. Flight 11-17 November 2008, p.66.
  11. Flight 11-17 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. Kuensel Newspaper - Domestic helicopter service picks up
  16. DAP Helicópteros webpage

External links

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