The Eurocopter AS350 Ecureuil (Squirrel) is a single-engined lighthelicopter originally manufactured by Aérospatiale (now part of Eurocopter Group). The AS350 is marketed in North America as the AStar. The AS355 Ecureuil 2 (marketed in North America as the TwinStar.) is a twin-engined variant, while the Eurocopter EC130 is a derivative of the AS350 airframe.
Development began in the early 1970s to replace the Alouette II, and the first flight took place on 27 June 1974. Despite the introduction of the EC130, production of the Eurocopter AS350 remains strong.
Both single and twin-engined versions have been built under licence by Helibras in Brazil. The Helicópteros do Brasil (Helibras) subsidiary of Eurocopter signed a contract for a major upgrade program on the Brazilian Army’s fleet of 36 AS350 Ecureuils.
On May 14, 2005 an AS350 B3 piloted by Eurocopter test pilot Didier Delsalle (fr:Didier Delsalle) touched down on the top of Mt. Everest, at 8,850 metres (29,035 feet) . This record has been confirmed by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale.
On April 29, 2010 a stripped-down AS350 B3 succeeded in rescuing three alpinists from Annapurna at 7,100 m, one at a time, the highest such rescue ever.