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Mystery Chopper lands on top of Everest!
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May 24, 2005 15: 41 EST
It happened only 2 days after our first report, but the press release wasn't published until today. The chopper sat on the summit for 2 minutes, and did it again the next day! Here's the official press release:

"On May 14th, 2005 at 7h08 (local time), a serial Ecureuil/AStar AS 350 B3 piloted by the EUROCOPTER X-test pilot Didier Delsalle, landed at 8,850 meters (29,035ft) on the top of the Mount Everest (Kingdom of Nepal).

"This mythical summit"

After taking off from its base camp Lukla on May 14th, 2005 at 2,866 meters (9,403ft) Didier Delsalle onboard his Ecureuil AS350B3 reached the top of Mount Everest. As required by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI - International Aeronautical Federation), the aircraft remained landed on ground more than 2 minutes on the top of the world before flying back to Lukla. This feat was renewed the day after.

Stepping out of his helicopter, Didier Delsalle commented: « To reach this mythical summit definitively seemed to be a dream; despite the obvious difficulties of the target to be reached, the aircraft demonstrated its capability to cope with the situation (…), sublimated by the magic of the place”.

Rescue missions

Achieved with a serial helicopter, this absolute World Record once more contributes to underline the unique qualities of the Ecureuil/AStar AS350 B3 as a multipurpose, reliable, quick and comfortable helicopter which emerges as the most performing aircraft in the world in the most extreme conditions.

During the trial period, Didier Delsalle and his Ecureuil/AStar AS350 B3 flew some rescue missions on behalf of the Nepalese authorities demonstrating the operational capabilities of the aircraft used to set the altitude landing and take-off World Record.

Test flights up to 10.211 meters (33.500 ft)

This feat has been achieved further to various flight tests begun one year ago with the Ecureuil/AStar AS350 B3 among which:

- Experimental flight up to 8,992 meters (29,500 ft) in April 2004 in Istres (France),
- “Time to climb” records to the heights of 3,000, 6,000 and 9,000 meters performed on April 14th, 2005 in respectively 2 minutes 21 seconds, 5 minutes 6 seconds and 9 minutes 26 seconds. These records smash the previous ones held by an Ecureuil/AStar AS350 B1 with respectively 2 minutes 59 seconds, 6 minutes 55 seconds and 13 minutes 52 seconds,
- Experimental flight up to 10.211 meters (33.500 ft) on April 14, 2005,
- Landing at the South Pass of Mount Everest at 7,925 meters (26,000 ft) on May 12th, 2005, establishing a new altitude landing and take-off record, previously held by a Cheetah helicopter - variant of the Lama - at 7,670 meters (25,150 ft).

With this landing on the top of the world, EUROCOPTER demonstrates that its technological innovations provide its products a length - height - ahead, set at the disposal of its worldwide customers.

To date, 3,670 Ecureuil/AStar have been sold worldwide and logged 15 million flight hours. Since its introduction on the market, the Ecureuil/AStar/Twinstar family has been benefiting of successive improvements among which its most powerful version is the Ecureuil/AStar AS350 B3. This aircraft is serial equipped with modern systems such as dual channel FADEC, Vehicule and Engine Monitoring Display, integrated GPS, etc….

424 Ecureuil/AStar AS350 B3 are currently in operation worldwide, mainly used for missions requiring high performances, such as aerial work (cargo sling capacity: 1,400kg) in very high and hot conditions. EUROCOPTER is thankful to the Nepalese government and all its departments for their help and friendly support throughout this mission. These world records are currently submitted to the official approval of the FAI.

Eurocopter is a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS. The worldwide leader in aerospace, defense, and the associated services, EADS generated a turnover of 31.8 billion euros in 2004, and employed approximately 110,000 people throughout the world. The EADS Group includes the aircraft maker Airbus, the world’s leading helicopter manufacturer Eurocopter, and the world’s second largest missile company, the joint venture MDBA. EADS is also the biggest partner in the Eurofighter consortium and the lead contractor for the Ariane launcher. The Group is also developing the A400M military transport aircraft, and is the major industrial partner for Galileo, the European satellite-based navigation system.

Top image courtesy of Eurocopter, bottom image ExplorersWeb in Nepal.

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