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AS 350 B2 AStar

The AS 350 is a single-turbine helicopter (helo) with a three-bladed rotor capable of carrying a combination of 5 passengers and cargo weighing up to 453kg. Built by Aerospatiale (Eurocopter), this helo is operated out of McMurdo Station by PHI. While having a smaller lifting capacity than the Bell 212, the AStar makes up for this with an increased cruising speed and range, and less fuel consumption.


A US AStar lands in the Dry Valleys. Tracy Smith

An Astar ready to pick up members of the McMurdo team after a day in the Wright Valley. Nick Demetras


When flying in a helo, all passengers must wear their Extreme Cold Weather (ECW) clothing, including mukluks, in case of an air accident, as well as ear muffs for the noise. They must follow all instructions given by the pilot, helitech or Field Support Coordinator. A researcher must always wait for a ‘thumbs up’ sign from the pilot before approaching the machine, and always walk in the pilot’s visual range, never behind the helicopter. Any loose clothing and equipment has to be weighed down when a helo takes off and lands because of the huge down draft from the rotor blades. Before a helo leaves a team in the field they have to make radio contact with Scott Base to prove that radio communications were working OK.

Did you know?
AStar Stats File

Crew: 1 Pilot

Passengers: 5

Lifting Capacity: 453kg (499kg underslung)

Powerplant: 1
Turbomeca Arriel 1D1

Length: 12.9m

Cruising Speed: 246.3kmh

Range: 660km (4.4 hrs)