The Eco-Star helicopter, also known as the Eurocopter/Airbus EC130, is a newer option on the commercial helicopter market. In fact, it was specifically designed for touring companies, based upon inspiration from a modified A-Star. It’s lighter than its predecessor, with greater cabin space (a little over 20% larger) and a single engine that uses less power. It’s also a little bit bigger structurally speaking, standing at almost 11 feet tall and 35 feet long.
The Eco-Star is predominantly used as a touring helicopter, although its lighter build has occasionally appealed to medical service operators as well, who need maneuverability above all else. This model typically seats up to 7 passengers in individual seats, which may be a preferable option for those traveling in smaller groups who want more personal space en route. The Eco-Star has an average cruising speed of 150 miles per hour, although it may often slow down to allow for passengers to take pictures.
Larger, wraparound windows also allow for greater visibility from the passenger seats, an ideal innovation for touring helicopters where better views make for a better experience. Touring Eco-stars are typically also equipped with the state-of-the-art surround-sound systems, allowing for greater clarity in the pilot’s narration.
The most significant engineering difference between the A-Star and the Eco-star is the presence of the “fenestron” tail rotor in the latter model, a design feature in which the fan of the rear rotor is encased in plastic to dramatically limit operational noise (an estimated 50% less noise compared to conventional tail rotors). Consequently, passengers will experience a significantly quieter ride on the Eco-Star than might be the case on other commercial helicopters (although other models can still allow for casual conversation).