Eurocopter's Helibras subsidiary is to lead a major upgrade to the Brazilian army's in-service fleet of AS350 helicopters, with the work scheduled to run until 2018.

A total of 36 single-engined aircraft will be modernised under the project, with the type to gain an automatic flight control system with autopilot, three flat-panel cockpit displays and improved crew seats. Other companies to be involved in the effort include Aeroeletronica and Sagem, and the work will be performed at Helibras's Itajubá facilities.

 Brazilian army AS350 - Eurocopter
© Guilherme Wiltgen/Forças Terrestres 

"The application of our modernisation package to the AS350 will significantly improve this helicopter's versatility for the Brazilian Army Aviation Command, and we are offering these enhancements for other Ecureuil operators in Brazil as well," says Helibras president Eduardo Marson. The type is also flown by the nation's navy and civil and federal police forces, says Flightglobal's HeliCAS database.

Eurocopter says the enhancements will enable Brazil to extend operations with its AS350s by at least 25 years.

Helibras has also recently launched work to modify the first of 50 Eurocopter EC725 helicopters on order for the Brazilian armed forces, and will start final assembly of the type during 2012.

Source: Flight International