Using what is becoming a popular method of escaping from French jails, three convicts broke out of prison and escaped on a hijacked helicopter on December 11. Two armed men hijacked the AStar in Albertville and forced the pilot to fly to the prison, about 10 minutes away. The helicopter landed in a courtyard and three prisoners clambered aboard.
Eurocopter test pilot Didier Delsalle (center) and president and CEO Fabrice Brégier (right) accepted the world record verification from Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) representative Jacques Escaffe (left) for landing the first helicopter on top of Mount Everest (elevation 29,035 feet). Delsalle performed the feat last May in a production Eurocopter AS 350B3 AStar.
Eurocopter AS 350-B2 AStar, Jasper, Ala., Dec. 22, 2005–The NTSB blamed the accident on the pilot’s failure to maintain a visual lookout and proper altitude clearance during a low-level flight.
After spending five years flying Eurocopter’s EC 130B4 Ecureuil “EcoStar,” Dave Chevalier, president of Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, still thinks it’s the best choice for pleasing his air tourists and mitigating noise complaints, but he has candid criticisms about elements of the model’s operating costs and performance.
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