The Kenya Police Air Wing has become the first African customer to receive Eurocopter’s AS350B3e Ecureuil helicopter, which features an uprated power plant for better overall performance.
The aircraft is dedicated to police law enforcement and crime prevention missions including anti-poaching, anti-terrorism operations. It will also be deployed in search & rescue, casualty evacuation, personnel transport and various other civic protection roles.
The Kenya Police Air-Wing is the first African customer for the AS350 B3e, which features an uprated Turbomeca Arriel 2D turbine engine allowing better takeoff performance.
Range and payload was a primary consideration in selecting the AS350 B3e as the Air-Wing required a helicopter capable of patrolling both the dense built up area around the major cities, Nairobi and Mombasa, but also to cover smaller towns and communities spread over large areas. Kenya has a land area of 580 000 square kilometres and a population of nearly 39 million residents. It has a diverse geography including a long Indian Ocean coastline. Inland, the terrain varies from savannah grasslands to forests, mountains and even dessert regions.
The AS350 has also been ordered by law enforcement agencies in Angola, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. Some 5 000 Ecureuil helicopters have been delivered in 98 countries for some 1 600 operators. These aircraft have cumulated more than 21 million flight hours.
The AS350 was assembled by Eurocopter’s subsidiary Eurocopter Southern Africa at Grand Central airport, South Africa, and ferried to Kenya in early December. Eurocopter Southern Africa won the Kenyan order after a competitive tender.
Established in 1994, the subsidiary employs 80 people to generate an annual turnover of over R300 million through the sale of helicopters and the maintenance of approximately 250 in the region. Able to provide technical as well as pilot training, Eurocopter Southern Africa is currently deploying a full flight Super Puma simulator in Johannesburg to offer basic and advanced simulator training to its African customers’ base.