Contender for Indian Light Utility Helicopter (LuH) contract performs world's highest rescue at 22,600 feet - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Monday 31 May 2010

Contender for Indian Light Utility Helicopter (LuH) contract performs world's highest rescue at 22,600 feet

A Eurocopter AS350 Ecureuil helicopter performing a slung rescue operation on a distressed climber. This helicopter has just broken the world record in high-altitude rescues, at 22,600 feet on Mount Annapurna in Nepal.

The Eurocopter press release is pasted below:

Marignane, France, May 27, 2010

A record-breaking aerial rescue on Nepal’s Mount Annapurna has underscored the performance capabilities of Eurocopter’s AS350 Ecureuil helicopter in extreme conditions – including the most challenging high-altitude operations.

Three Spanish mountain climbers were successfully airlifted by the Fishtail Air AS350 B3 from a 6,900 meter-high location using the “longline” technique, in which a rescuer is suspended at the end of a long rope for insertions/extractions from difficult terrain.

The April 29 operation was part of special rescue flights being performed in a cooperative effort involving Fishtail Air, a charter helicopter company based at Kathmandu, Nepal, and Switzerland’s Air Zermatt.

This mission utilized Fishtail Air’s second AS350 B3, which arrived in Nepal on March 1 to join a helicopter fleet that includes an AS350 B and one AS350 B2, along with the company’s first AS350 B3.

Air Zermatt’s Capt. Daniel Aufdenblatten performed the rescue, while Swiss Mountain Guide Richard Lenner was deployed as a human sling to lift the stranded climbers on the longline – evacuating them one-by-one to a base camp at an altitude of 4,000 meters. The climbers had been stranded 36 hours on Mount Annapurna.

In addition to this difficult operation, Fishtail Air’s newest AS350 B3 also rescued four Korean climbers and three Nepalese Sherpas on April 26 from Nepal’s Mount Manaslu, extracting them at an altitude of approximately 6,500 meters. Piloting the helicopter was Fishtail Capt. Sabin Basnyat, who was joined by Air Zermatt’s Daniel Aufdenblatten and Richi Lehner. Mount Manaslu is the world’s eighth highest mountain, while Mount Annapurna is the tenth highest.

“These rescues are tributes to the crews’ professionalism, as well as the capability of our AS350 Ecureuil and the AS550 Fennec military version to deliver performance and reliability in the most extreme conditions,” said Eurocopter Group President and CEO Lutz Bertling.


  1. why does this come exactly at the time when india is considering helicopters?

  2. It comes at this time because this is the time that the rescue has been carried out!

    Are you suggesting that Eurocopter has staged the whole rescue in order to win the Indian helicopter deal?

    Also, India has been considering this helicopter purchase for over five years now. Today is no different from last year, the year before that, or the year before that.

  3. lil! the eternal Indian cynic.. let some credit be given where it is due

  4. Lol! the eternal cynic... Let there be some credit where it is due

  5. 22,600 feet, quite impressive ! Good job, let's see if the others can do the same.

  6. Now lets wait and see from where other LUH contenders are going to rescue their staged climbers from!... may be from Mt Everest?

  7. At least it triggers a healthy competitive zeal. Whatever it is, others may be forced to follow the suit.

  8. It is gathered that the helicopter model AS550C3 offered by Eurocopter, according to the manufacturer’s documentation, was unable to perform the High Altitude Hover-Out-Of-Ground-Effect (HOGE) at 6000 meter pressure altitude, in the phase one of the field trials. Another deviation shown by Eurocopter is that it will require permanent attachments for carrying two stretchers and removal of co-pilot’s seat, which is a serious deviation from the RFP issued.

    Can you verify this?

    Also, can you compare this with the Kamov Ka226T.

  9. I am surprised as the service ceiling of AS350 B3 as mentioned by wiki is only 4,600 m (15,100 ft), whereas the rescue operations have been claimed on 6500 m and 6900 m. OR am I missing something?

  10. @anonymous As i understand HOGE is supposed to be Eurocopter's strongest point. they hold the world record for landing on Mt. everest. If u r referring to a recent news reporting DNA that report had a lot of factual errors. It even quoted agusta as one of the key contenders when later reports said that agusta has been disqualified.


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