Development at Aérospatiale began in the early 1970s to replace the Aérospatiale Alouette II, and the first flight took place on 27 June 1974.
A twin-engined version, known as the Ecureuil 2, Twin Squirrel, or in North America as the TwinStar, first flew on 28 September 1979.
Despite the introduction of the Eurocopter EC130 in 2001, production of both the AS350 and AS355, and of their AS550 and AS555 Fennec militarized counterparts, was continued for some time. In 2007, the more capable AS355 NP variant with FADEC engines was introduced to service. In September 2015, Airbus Helicopters announced that it was to terminate the manufacture of the AS355 as part of an effort to focus on stronger-selling rotorcraft – production of the AS350 is to continue. Production of the AS355 is to continue through 2016 until the existing order backlog is fulfilled.