Danish Air Force: Danish Fennecs Clock up 50,000 Flight Hours

The 12 AS550 C2 Fennec light helicopters operated by the Danish Air Force recently reached the milestone of 50,000 flight hours—an event celebrated on November 12, 2008, at Karup air base in Denmark. The aircraft first entered service in June 1990, and passed the milestone of 25,000 flight hours back in September 1999.

© Eurocopter / Jérôme Deulin
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The aircraft have been flown by the 724th Squadron during their 18 years of service, which can best be summed up in two words: Flexibility and reliability. The AS550 C2 Fennecs have performed their missions to perfection, including numerous operations in foreign combat zones.
In fact, it is estimated that 80 to 90% of the 50,000 flight hours have been performed under operational conditions–a total that includes training flights with the same mission profiles as real-life operations. Training activities account for approximately 40% of the Fennecs’ workload, and 30% of the flights have been carried out using night vision goggles and at heights below 150 feet.
The Danish Fennecs were initially intended as anti-tank and ground attack helicopters, but they soon showed their multipurpose capability by performing many other types of missions during external operations. In all, the Fennecs have notched up almost 2,000 flight hours in foreign theaters of operations, including more than 300 hours in Macedonia in 2003, more than 800 hours in Iraq in 2005 and some 670 hours in Afghanistan in 2008. These missions included light transportation, ground force protection, patrols, as well as in-flight command and observation duties. The aircraft flew in temperatures of +50°C in Afghanistan and at altitudes of over 3,000 feet above sea level. At the other end of the spectrum, the aircraft also performed missions in Norway in 2005 and 2007 at temperatures of -30°C. The aircraft availability has never dipped below 97% for all of these operations, as most failures have been minor ones that could quickly be resolved on site.
The Fennecs are now being called on to perform surveillance missions, in particular by the Danish police as part of the fight against terrorism.


“The most reliable Aircraft”

Captain Finn Christensen is full of praise for the AS550 C2 Fennec: “I think the Fennec is the most reliable aircraft ever operated by the Danish Air Force. Our helicopters are generally operated in close coordination with ground forces, and we perform different missions on a day-to-day basis depending on their needs. We’ve also used our Fennecs for a very wide range of missions, often at the very limits of the flight envelope. This is particularly true where outside temperature is concerned. During 50,000 hours of flight, we’ve never had an engine failure or any major problems with our aircraft. This is of course thanks to the quality of the Fennec and its engine, as well as the first-rate work of our technicians.”