The Airbus AS350, a single-engine light utility helicopter designed and manufactured in France by Aérospatiale and Eurocopter, which is now Airbus Helicopters, conducted its maiden voyage on June 27, 1974, powered by a Lycoming LTS101 turboshaft engine in Marignane, France.
The AS350 has been further developed over time, though the aircraft’s design is still the same. The rotor system, power plants, and avionics have been gradually improved. The helicopter has been Eurocopter’s biggest-selling product in the US market, selling roughly one AS350 per business day.
The AS350 has been developed to comply with the noise restrictions in places like national parks and in-cabin noise levels are low enough for passengers to converse during flight. The aircraft can also be quickly started up and shut down, making it useful during emergency medical operations. It is equipped with hydraulically-assisted flight controls, which remain operational in the event of a hydraulic failure.
With a standard seating configuration of one or two crew up front and four forward-facing cabin seats, the AS350 is generally used for utility work, corporate transport, aerial law enforcement, electronic news gathering and as a photography/videography platform.
The AS350 has broken several world records throughout its career. In 2005, the AS350 broke the world record for the highest-altitude landing and takeoff on Mount Everest at 29,029 feet, a title still held today. On 19 May 2013, the AS350 performed the world’s highest long-line rescue operation on Lhotse, the world’s fourth-highest mountain, located in the Himalayas, at 25,590 feet.
The Ruo’er Group, one of the largest general aviation companies in China, agreed to purchase 12 AS350s, which will be used for emergency medical services, humanitarian relief, aero-sightseeing, and pilot license training in Tibet.
“Ruo’er Group is aiming to become a full industrial chain service provider in China’s general aviation industry. I’m confident that Airbus AS350 can assist us to achieve our business goal with its outstanding performance, especially in high and extreme environments”, said Mr. Yong LYU, Chairman of Ruo’er Group. “I trust that Airbus Helicopters can enable us in making our ambition to operate the only helicopters fleet on the roof of the world with an average altitude of 4000 meters with its proven product and services.”
“The H125’s operating in the highest place in the world marks a breakthrough for this light single-engine aircraft, which is recognized worldwide for its performance, versatility, safety, low maintenance, and multi-mission capability”, said Marie-Agnes Veve, General Manager of Airbus Helicopters China.