Rise of the Machines

The best single-engine helicopter

Apr 9, 2012
Outside Magazine
B3 helicopter

A B3 helicopter on a high-altitude mission in the Himalayas    Photo: Eurocopter/Patrick Penna

The best-performing single-engine helicopter in its class, the Eurocopter AS350 B3 has been the go-to mountain-rescue bird around the world since the late 1990s. Kathmandu-based Fishtail Air now operates several B3s in Nepal and has used them in more than a hundred evacuations. On Everest, pilots fly with minimal fuel—as little as eight gallons—to reduce weight, but that can limit flight times to less than 20 minutes. This spring, Swiss company Air Zermatt launched a five-year program to train Nepali pilots in advanced mountain-rescue techniques.

Max. Rescue Altitude: 23,000 ft.
Capacity: 4
Cost: $2 million