I'm an airplane guy, but I've got a quick helicopter question. I've seen a few helicopters with what seems to be a fin shaped antenna on the middle of the fuselage just above the windshield. I've also seen them just below the cockpit. And sometimes there's two antennas, one above, and one below.

Items pointed out on a Bell 412 above and below cockpit

Just curious what its purpose is?

The antenne balise de detresse is the one I'm curious about:

Antennes de l' EC 145

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ To be clear, there is an antenna behind the wire cutter (hard to see) that is the antenne balise de detresse or distress beacon antenna or ELT antenna. $\endgroup$
    – Gerry
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 12:03
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    $\begingroup$ Antenne balise de detresse translates to "Emergency beacon Antenna" It's unclear wether it is for receiving or emitting tho. $\endgroup$
    – Antzi
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 3:10

1 Answer 1


It can be quite difficult to see as the big fin in the first photo is a wire cutter and it seems that the arrow points to that.

The second photo shows it a little more clearly. It is a wire cutter.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the information about the wire cutter. Youtube. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 5:59

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