- Aircraft History, Specification and Information -
Aérospatiale SA330 Puma

The Aérospatiale Puma is a four-bladed, twin-engined medium transport/utility helicopter. The Puma was originally manufactured by Sud Aviation of France under the designation SA.330.


The SA.330 Puma was originally developed by Sud Aviation to meet a requirement of the French Army for a medium-sized all-weather helicopter. The helicopter also had to be capable of operating by day and night as well as in a wide variety of climates.

In 1967, the Puma was also selected by the Royal Air Force (RAF) and given the designation Puma HC Mk.1. As a result of this decision, the SA 330 was included in a joint production agreement between Aerospatiale and Westland Helicopters of the UK.

The first of two Puma prototypes flew on 15 April 1965. Six pre-production models were also built, the last of which flew on 30 July 1968.

The first production SA 330 Puma flew in September 1968. Two years later, in 1970, Sud Aviation merged with Nord Aviation and SÉREB to form Aérospatiale, and the helicopter has been associated with that name ever since, though it still retained the "SA" (for "Sud Aviation") model designator. On 25 April 1978, the SA 330J Puma achieved the distinction of becoming the first helicopter outside the (then) Soviet Union to be certified for all-weather operations, including icy conditions.

Production of the SA 330 Puma by Aérospatiale ceased in 1987, by which time a total of 697 had been sold. The Puma was then replaced by an upgraded and improved version, the Eurocopter AS332 Super Puma.


Aérospatiale versions:

SA 330A
Prototypes, originally called "Alouette IV".

SA 330B
Initial production version for the French Army Aviation. Powered by 884 kW (1,185 hp) Turbomeca Turmo IIIC4 engines. 132 purchased by France.

SA 330 "Orchidée"
SA 330 modified to carry an "Orchidée" battlefiled surveillance radar system with a rotating underfuselage antenna, for the French Army. One demonstrator was built, flying in 1986. The Orchidée programme was cancelled in 1990, but the prototype rushed back into service in 1991 to serve in the Gulf War, leading to production of a similar system based on the Eurocopter Cougar.

SA 330C
Initial export production version. Powered by 1,044 kW (1,400 hp) Turmo IVB engines.

SA 330E
Version produced by Westland Helicopters for the RAF under the designation Puma HC Mk. 1.

SA 330F
Initial civilian export production version with Turbomeca Turmo IIIC4 turboshaft engines.

SA 330G
Upgraded civilian version with 1175 kW (1,575 hp) Turbomeca Turmo IVC engines.

SA 330H
Upgraded French Army and export version with Turbomeca IVC engines and composite main rotor blades. Designated SA 330Ba by the French Air Force. All surviving French Army SA 330Bs converted to this standard.

SA 330J
Upgraded civil transport version with composite rotor blades and with higher maximum take-off weight.

SA 330L
Upgraded version for so-called "hot and high" conditions. Military equivalent to civil SA 330J.

SA 330S
Upgraded SA 330L (themselves converted from SA 330C) version for the Portuguese Air Force.Powered by Turbomeca Makila engines.

SA 330Z
Prototype with "fenestron" tail rotor.

Versions by other manufacturers:

Atlas Aircraft Corporation Oryx
This is a remanufactured and upgraded SA 330 Puma built for the South African Air Force.

This is a version that was assembled by IPTN of Indonesia under the local designation NAS 330J and the Aerospatiale designation of SA 330J. Eleven units were produced.

IAR 330
This is a licence-built version of the SA 330 Puma manufactured by Industria Aeronautică Română of Romania. Designated as the SA 330L by Aerospatiale.

IAR-330 Puma SOCAT
24 modified for antitank warfare.

IAR-330 Puma Naval
3 modified for the Romanian Navy, using the SOCAT avionics.

Westland Puma HC Mk.1
This is the SA 330E version assembled by Westland Helicopters for the RAF and first flown on 25 November 1970. This is basically similar to the SA 330B used by France. The RAF placed an initial order for 40 Pumas in 1967, with a further eight attrition replacement aircraft in 1979. 30 of these are planned to be upgraded to Puma HC Mk.2 standard, with new Turbomeca Makila engines, revised cockpit displays and new communications, navigation and defensive systems.


Military operators

- Albanian Police
- Federal Police (Belgium)
Côte d'Ivoire
- French Army
Guinea (1 helicopter)
- Kenya Air Force, 9 in service in 2009
- Kuwait Air Force
Lebanon (10 helicopters pledged by UAE and to be delivered . Additionally 7 SA330L are currently in storage.)
- Royal Moroccan Air Force
- Pakistan Army
- Philippine Air Force In active Service.
- Portuguese Air Force
- Romanian Air Force
- Romanian Navy
South Africa
- South African Air Force: On the 31 January 1972 the SAAF Puma became involved with operations in Namibia and Angola, remaining involved until 1988. This first deployment to the Eastern Caprivi led to the first member of the SAAF to be awarded the Honoris Crux, one of several to be awarded to Puma crews. The Puma was to be involved in normal trooping, rapid deployment during “follow up” operations, radio relay, evacuation of casualties, rescuing downed aircrew, insertion of Special Forces (Ops Backlash and Kodak etc.) and large scale cross border operations such as Savannah, Uric, Protea, Super, Moduler etc. The Puma also saw action in Rhodesia, Zambia, Botswana and Mozambique. 13 Pumas were deployed and played a critical roles in the rescue efforts during the sinking of the MTS Oceanos
- Spanish Air Force
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
- Royal Air Force - The RAF ordered 48 Puma HC Mk 1 and in addition received a single ex-Argentine SA 330L captured in the Falklands War, and six ex-South African SA 330Ls purchased in 2002.
- No. 18 Squadron RAF
- No. 33 Squadron RAF
- No. 230 Squadron RAF
- No. 1563 Flight RAF

Civil operators

- Helog KG - SA 330J
South Africa
- Starlite Aviation - SA 330J
United States
- Evergreen Aviation - SA 330J

Specifications (SA 330H Puma)

General characteristics
Crew: 3
Capacity: 16 passengers
Length: 18.15 m (59 ft 6½ in)
Rotor diameter: 15.00 m (49 ft 2½ in)
Height: 5.14 m (16 ft 10½ in)
Disc area: 177.0 m² (1,905 ft²)
Empty weight: 3,536 kg (7,795 lb)
Max takeoff weight: 7,000 kg (15,430 lb)
Powerplant: 2× Turboméca Turmo IVC turboshafts, 1,175 kW (1,575 hp) each

Never exceed speed: 273 km/h (147 knots, 169 mph)
Maximum speed: 257 km/h (138 knots, 159 mph)
Cruise speed: 248 km/h (134 knots, 154 mph) econ cruise
Range: 580 km (313 nm, 360 mi)
Service ceiling: 4,800 m (15,750 ft)
Rate of climb: 7.1 m/s (1,400 ft/min)

Coaxial 7.62 mm (0.30 in) machine guns
Side-firing 20 mm (0.787 in) cannon
Various others

Popular culture

In Red Dawn (1984) and most notably Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) and Rambo III (1988), an SA-330 Puma was equipped with stub wings and a gun turret to mimic a Soviet Mil Mi-24 Hind.

Last updated November 08, 2009
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Aérospatiale Puma".
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