The A-Star helicopter, more commonly known outside of the United States as the Airbus AS350 and several variants, is a standard touring helicopter option for most companies. Designed with a single engine and a three-blade primary rotor, the A-Star is quick, easily maneuverable, and easy to start up or turn off. It’s also one of the larger commercial, non-military helicopters, standing at over 10 feet tall and almost 36 feet long.
The A-Star family of helicopters is among the most popular commercial aircraft around the world, and they’re classics for a reason: this model is frequently used in a variety of important roles, from medical and law enforcement services to (with some modifications) military use. The A-Star is particularly known for excellent high-altitude performance, making it a natural choice for touring companies as well.
The A-Star can comfortably fit between 4 and 6 passengers on bench-style seating, all of which typically face forward on touring models. It can reach cruising speeds of roughly 150 miles per hour, although on sightseeing excursions it may slow down to allow for photographs or to emphasize narration. Cabins are usually climate-controlled (which makes a big difference at high altitudes, where the temperatures can drop substantially).
One of the best features of the A-Star is the limited noise interference you’ll experience as a passenger. Because it was originally designed in France to comply with rigorous noise regulations in Europe, this helicopter is one of the quietest rides in the business and allows for regular conversations between passengers and the pilot.
A-Stars fitted out for sightseeing also include state-of-the-art audio, highlighting the pilot’s informative narration amidst what really is pretty minimal background noise.