- Aircraft History, Specification and Information -
Aérospatiale SA 315B Lama

The Aérospatiale SA 315B Lama is a French single-engined helicopter developed to meet a requirement for hot and high operations, it combines the Alouette II airframe with Alouette III components. The helicopter was licence built in India as the Cheetah.

Aerospatiale SA-315B Lama Helicopter - HB-XSW - Air Zermatt - Zermatt Heliport, Switzerland (LSEZ)
Aerospatiale SA-315B Lama
HB-XSW (cn 2563)
Air Zermatt
Photo taken May 21, 2005
Zermatt Heliport, Switzerland (LSEZ)
Photo Copyright & Thanks to
Joost De Wit - www.AviaSpotters.nl
Aerospatiale SA-315B Lama Rotorcraft - OE-EXU - Wucher Helicopter
Aerospatiale SA-315B Lama
OE-EXU (cn 2478)
Wucher Helicopter
Photo taken May 21, 2005
Ludesch Heliport, Austria (LOIG)
Photo Copyright & Thanks to
Tino Dietsche - www.AirPics4You.ch
Aerospatiale SA-315B Lama - HB-XPL - Helikopter Service Triet AG - Off-Airport Kleine Scheidegg, Switzerland
Aerospatiale SA-315B Lama
HB-XPL (cn 2560)
Helikopter-Service Triet AG
One of the last Taxi Flights this day at the Ski Races Lauberhorn. The famous Eiger Northwall in the Background.
Photo taken January 13, 2007
Off-Airport - Kleine Scheidegg, Switzerland
Photo Copyright & Thanks to
Aerospatiale SA-315B Lama Helicopter - EC-EOF - TAVASA Trabajos Aereos Vascongados SA
Aerospatiale SA-315B Lama
EC-EOF (cn 2261)
TAVASA Trabajos Aéreos Vascongados SA
Photo taken January 29, 2005
Madrid Cuatro Vientos Airport, Spain (LECU / LEVS)
Photo Copyright & Thanks to
Manuel Pancorbo
Aerospatiale SA-315B Lama Helicopter - HB-XTN - Trans Heli Switzerland
Aerospatiale SA-315B Lama
HB-XTN (cn 2407)
Trans Heli
Photo taken July 2007
Flanthey, Switzerland
Photo Copyright & Thanks to
Julien Ritz - www.helidropzone.ch
Aerospatiale SA-315B Lama Helicopter - I-EFLY - ETI 2000
Aerospatiale SA-315B Lama
I-EFLY (cn 2497)
ETI 2000
Photo taken July 15, 2005
Off-Airport - Val Pelline (AO), Italy
Photo Copyright & Thanks to
Damiano Gualdoni - www.dgualdo.it

Design and development

Originally designed to meet an Indian armed forces requirement for operation in 'hot and high' conditions, the Lama combines the Artouste powerplant and rotor system of the Alouette III with a reinforced Alouette II airframe. First flown on 17 March 1969, the SA 315B received its French airworthiness certificate in 1970 and the name Lama was given by its manufacturers in July 1971.

As with the Alouette series, the Lama can be fitted for various roles, such as light passenger transport or agricultural tasks. The military variants include liaison, observation, photography, air/sea rescue, transport and ambulance duties. The SA315B is particularly suited to mountainous areas due to its performance and can carry underslung loads of up to 1000 kg (2,205 lb).

Operational history

The Lama was designed specifically for altitude performance and during demonstration flights in the Himalayas during 1969, an SA315B carrying a crew of two and 120 kg of fuel landed and took off at the highest altitude then recorded, 7,500 m (24,605 ft). On 21 June 1972, a Lama with a single pilot (Jean Boulet) aboard established a helicopter absolute altitude record of 12,442 m (40,814 ft), instantly followed by an inadvertent record for the longest ever autorotation when the engine flamed out at the peak altitude of the flight.

With a performance proven by the records the helicopter was ordered by the Indian military and licence to produce the SA315B was granted to HAL at Bangalore in India during 1971. The first Indian-assembled SA315B flew on 6 October 1972, with deliveries starting in December 1973. The HAL produced Lama was given the name Cheetah. In 1978, agreement was reached with Helibras of Brazil for assembly of the Lama in Brazil. Given the name Gavião, the Brazilian variant was exported to Bolivia.


  • SA 315B Lama
    Derived from the SE 3150, it was designed for high altitude operations using a 650kW (870shp) Turboméca Astazou IIIB turboshaft, derated to 410kW (550shp). This derivative still holds the absolute altitude record for all types of helicopters since 1972: 12,442 m.
  • HAL Cheetah
    Indian licence built version of the SA 315B Lama.
  • HAL Lancer
    Modified and updated version of Cheetah.
  • HB 315B Gaviao
    Brazilian licence built version of the SA 315B Lama.
  • HAL Cheetal
    2009 version with Turbomeca TM333-2M2


  • Angola
    People's Air and Air Defence Force of Angola - 2 Lama in service.
  • Argentina
    Argentine Air Force - Grupo Aéreo 4, III Escuadrón de Búsqueda y Rescate y Tareas Especiales - 1 Lama in service as Andes SAR aircraft.
    Argentine Army - Sección de Aviación de Ejército de Montaña No 8 - 2 Lama in service as Andes SAR aircraft.
  • Bolivia
    Bolivian Air Force
    Grupo Aéreo de Búsqueda y Salvamento 51, Escuadrón 511 - 2 Lama and 3 Gaviao in service.
  • Chile
    Chilean Army - Regimiento de Aviación Nº1, Batallón de Exploración y Reconocimiento - Retired
    Chilean Air Force - Grupo de Aviación N°2, Fuerza Aérea de Chile - Retired.
  • Ecuador
    Ecuadorian Army - Brigada de Aviación No.15 - 3 Lama in service.
  • Finland
  • India
    Indian Air Force - 17 Wing, 114HU, 28 Wing, 131FAC Flt, 39 Wing, 132FAC Flt, HTS - total of 24 Cheetah in service.
    Indian Army - 48 Cheetah in service.
  • Italy
    GIANA Helicopter - RTI GIANA Helicopter - first LAMA operated in 1986, 4 Lama in fleet as of February 2010
  • Morocco
    Royal Moroccan Gendarmerie Air Squadron - 3 Lama in service as of September 2007
  • Namibia
    Namibian Air Force 2 Cheetahs in service.
  • Nepal
    Air Battalion, 11th Brigade Nepal Army
  • Pakistan
    Pakistan Army - 8AAsq - 15 remain in service, .
  • Togo
    Togolese Air Force - 2 Lama in service
  • Switzerland
    Total in Switzerland : 81 Lama registered
    Air Glaciers SA - 16 Lama in service as of June 2010

Specifications (SA 315B Lama)

General characteristics
Crew: 1
Capacity: 4 passengers or 1,135 kg (2,500 lb) slung payload
Length: 10.24 m (33 ft 7¼ in)
Main rotor diameter: 11.02 m (36 ft 1¾ in)
Height: 3.09 m (10 ft 1¾ in)
Main rotor area: 95.38 m² (1,026 ft²)
Empty weight: 1,021 kg (2,251 lb)
Gross weight: 2,300 kg (5,070 lb)
Powerplant: 1 × Turbomeca Artouste IIIB turboshaft, 649 kW (870 hp) derated to 410 kW (550 hp) each

Maximum speed: 192 km/h (119 mph)
Range: 515 km (320 miles)
Service ceiling: 5,400 m (17,715 ft)
Rate of climb: 5.5 m/s (1,080 ft/min)

Last updated December 03, 2010
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Aérospatiale SA 315B Lama".
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