First Look: Cowansim AS350B3E (h125)
August 16, 2022
The Eurocopter AS350 Écureuil helicopter, now commonly known as the Airbus Helicopters H125, was first introduced to the market in 1975. It was originally designed and manufactured in France by Aérospatiale and Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters) it has become one of the most popular helicopters ever built! The AS350 is also known for its confusing names, despite formally being named the AS350 in Europe, it is marketed as the A-star in North America. Another interesting fact about the AS350 is that in April 2010 an AS350 that had been stripped of everything non-essential landed atop the summit of Mount Everest to rescue 3 injured climbers, it is confirmed as a record for the highest such rescue ever conducted by a helicopter, landing at 29,030ft and managing to return safely with everyone alive onboard. The very model recreated by Cowansim for X-plane 11 is the same model that became the only Helicopter to land on the summit of Everest - the mighty AS350B3e (H125)
The aircraft is downloaded as a zipped file from the Cowansim store at just over 1.7GB. It does not have an installer but as with most X-plane 11 addons, a simple extraction of the zipped file into the aircraft folder in the X-plane 11 main directory and the helicopter ready to go.
The AS350 in my opinion is without a doubt one of the best-modelled helicopters ever made for X-Plane 11. This may be a bold statement but the detail of developer Joshua Cowan's work on both the exterior and interior is nothing I have seen for X-Plane before.
The exterior of the helicopter is recreated in stunning detail from top to bottom. Everything from the shine on the paintwork to rivets and fasteners in the fuselage are recreated in excruciating detail! Stunning modelling and texture work can also be seen in and around the engine, exhaust, and rotor head section of the helicopter. My only drawback (albeit minor) on the exterior is the landing and taxi lights which look a little neglected when turned on.
The helicopter features a mind-blowing menu of extras which can be chosen from to configure the aircraft for exactly the mission you need, be it full passenger-config, cargo and freight, sling operations, TV camera operations or even search and rescue ops. All of this can be used and of course, it's not just superficial… the components work! All of these extra components are modelled beautifully and no detail was spared.
Moving inside the cabin of the aircraft, the texture and modelling work is once again stellar! The stitching on the seats as well as the seat frames are fantastic. The panels are highly configurable and boasts GTN 650 and GTN 750 compatibility from the get-go. The cabin can be arranged in any way you need for your mission, be it for recording with the working Cineflex camera, transporting cargo or transporting people!
Systems wise the AS350 once again does not disappoint! It boasts a fully functional VEMD (Vehicle & Engine Management Display) system which replicates the true system of the real aircraft perfectly. The aircraft has a standard 6-pack set of instruments along with full integration for RealityXP GTN 750 and GTN 650. The helicopter also has full Avitab functionality with a 3D tablet modelled nicely into the cockpit. Just to top it all off, the AS350 works flawlessly in VR for those who like to fly in virtual reality.
The AS350 flies very similarly to the real thing. Cowansim has stated it was “tested and zeroed in by real Pilots”. For example the helicopter can be a little twitchy on initial liftoff and when flying at speed just like a real thing. It's certainly a helicopter that requires some attention and coordination to fly but boy is it rewarding! Overall the flight model feels very good. It is also promising to hear that a team of AS350 pilots are actively working on the helicopter with the developer to bring it even closer to real life in updates which are to come in the near future.
From start-up to shutting down the AS350 sounds superb.Cowansim has really done a fantastic job of replicating that true rotor sound on top of the fantastic turbine engine sounds. A nice feature is also the ability to click on the nicely replicated David Clarke headset which will dampen the noise down if you so wish.
In terms of performance, the AS350 for me overall is very good. It's not the greatest ever in terms of performance but it's also far from the worst. It sits right where an addon as detailed as this is expected to sit.
A configuration menu is provided for setting the helicopter up to tailor for the needs of your mission, the sheer number of options included is breathtaking. As I have spoken about earlier in the article, you can set your helicopter up for everything from TV camera work to a full medivac cabin.
As we have come to expect from Cowansim, there are a full set of toggleable covers and tie downs with the aircraft along with a loading system. A nice feature is when you load passengers, they introduce themselves and interact with you to add an extra bit of immersion to your flight. The 3D people in the cabin are fantastically recreated and move around in a very realistic manner - overall a nice touch.
An around-the-world adventure version of the helicopter is also included which is a nice touch for those who like to fly their helicopters to the lesser gone regions.
However, it doesn't end there! On top of all this, Included are over 90 beautifully made liveries right out of the box!
Another nice touch on the AS350 are the working floats, these can be deployed in emergencies to land on water. I, of course, put these to the test and I'm happy to report the inflation was realistic (and loud) when it touched down on the water nicely with a splash. This is another neat little feature.
In conclusion, I do think this is one of the best Helicopters available for the X-Plane 11 market. It is available from the Cowansim store for the fantastic price of only $32.95 USD. When looking at everything that is included in this package and the fact it will include a free X-plane 12 update, this price is incredibly good.
There is also an amazing improvement and enhancements update already scheduled to come out for the H125. Cowansim has a fantastic track record for support and taking feedback onboard to implement in the future. Those who have purchased from Cowansim before I’m sure can confirm the pleasure it is to own one of his excellent helicopters.
For all the reasons above, I cannot recommend the Cowansim H125 (AS350BEe) enough. It has certainly reignited my passion for Heli-Simming and hopefully those of you who go on to fly it will enjoy it just as much!
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