Why the A-Star and ECO-Star Helicopters are considered the ‘Gold Standard’ of touring helicopters in Hawaii.

Feb 14, 2020 | General Information

There is no question that of all the helicopters flown in Hawaii, the A-Star helicopter and its newer cousin, the ECO-Star, are the aircraft of choice used by most helicopter touring companies on Maui, Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island. This is primarily due to the design feature of both aircraft which have a positive effect on the ‘tour experience’ of most passengers.

Both helicopters are made by Airbus and have similar designs but there is no question that the ECO-Star has enhanced features that make it more desirable from a passenger standpoint overall. These features however do come at a price as the flights on these are generally more expensive. This in no way is to suggest that the A-Star helicopter is in some way a ‘weak sister’ to the ECO-Star and should in any way be avoided. The differences will in no way impact your overall flight experience as you will be visiting the exact same areas. The difference might be that you may feel as though you were pampered a bit more in the newer version and flew with a bit more comfort. In all honesty it should be stated that if you were flying on your first helicopter flight on an A-Star as compared to flying on your first helicopter flight in an ECO-Star it is a fair assumption that your overall experience after landing would be that you were simply blown-away by the sheer beauty of the island you flew over.

This would be because both touring helicopter share the same basic positive design features that make them both perfect for helicopter touring. They both carry 6 passengers (the ECO-Star can sometimes carry 7) all facing forward and everyone seated anywhere on the aircraft has a 180 degree view. Both aircraft have been designed with the rota-tor shaft placed behind the cockpit so it is never a factor impeding visibility. The seat design is usually 4 persons in the back and 2 passengers in the front in addition to the pilot. The back seat is raised like in ‘theater seating’ so you can easily see above the heads of those in front of you. Both aircraft are quiet in the cabin and to a large degree, in the outside world, as the original versions of the A-Star were designed in France and had to comply with the generally strict regulations for sound that existed there. Each travels easily at a speed of about 150 MPH but of course can cut speed dramatically as the touring landscape will determine. These basic features in themselves set them apart from the other helicopter aircraft used in Hawaii and for the most part, for the better.
Certainly their are differences between the upgraded versions of ECO-Star and the discerning visitor will want to know what they are. Essentially, in a nutshell, here are the improvements that are provided in these newer helicopter designs:

There is a superiority in viability. There is more window space (about 23%) in the wrap around design.
Although quite for both inside the cabin, the ECO-Star is more quiet.
The noise pollution outside the aircraft is considered to be 50% less by most estimates because of the inclusion of the specially designed Tail Rotor which has the characteristic and easily observed circular fan visible in the tail section.
From a ‘green standpoint’ it uses 25% less fuel.
Because of the fuel efficiency and slightly faster speed range, it can zoom to areas that are of great sightseeing interest more quickly and thus spend more time in those areas.
Instead of bench seating you will have individual bucket style seats and more room between passengers. The ECO-Star as adverse to the A-Star has appreciably more ‘beam’ as viewed on the tarmac.