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Aérospatiale Lama

The SA 315B Lama was initially created to fulfil the requirements of the Nepalese Army Air Service and the Indian Air Force.

These two countries needed a helicopter that could operate effectively in the challenging conditions of the Himalayas, where even medium-sized helicopters struggled to perform.

In order to meet this demand, Aerospatiale decided to combine features from their existing helicopters, the Aérospatiale Alouette II and the Aérospatiale Alouette III, to develop a new rotorcraft specifically designed for high altitude operations.

The newly developed helicopter, known as Lama, was specifically designed with the Alouette III’s Turbomeca Artouste turbo shaft power plant and dynamic systems, along with a reinforced version of the Alouette II’s airframe.

On March 17, 1969, the inaugural SA 315B, powered by an Artouste IIB engine, successfully completed its first flight.

Following this achievement, on September 30, 1970, the helicopter obtained its airworthiness certificate and was officially introduced for operational service in July 1971.

Thanks to its exceptional performance at high altitudes, the Lama swiftly gained popularity among operators worldwide, particularly in mountainous regions.

Similar to the Alouette series, this versatile helicopter can be customised for various purposes, including light passenger transportation, agricultural tasks, oil-and-gas exploration, aerial firefighting, and other specialised missions.

The military versions of the Lama encompass a range of roles such as liaison, observation, photography, air/sea rescue, transport, and ambulance duties.





4 passengers


1,135 kg (2,500 lb) slung payload


10.24 m (33 ft 7.25 in)


3.09 m (10 ft 1.75 in)

Empty weight

1,021 kg (2,251 lb)

Gross weight

2,300 kg (5,070 lb)


1 × Turbomeca Artouste IIIB turboshaft 

649 kW (870 hp) de-rated to 410 kW (550 hp)

Main rotor diameter

11.02 m (36 ft 1.75 in)

Main rotor area

95.38 m2 (1,026 sq ft)


Maximum speed

192 km/h (119 mph, 103 kn)


515 km (320 mi, 280 nmi)

Service ceiling

5,400 m (17,715 ft)

Rate of climb

5.5 m/s (1,080 ft/min).

Helicopters: An Illustrated History of their Impact-S S McGowen.
How the Helicopter Changed Modern Warfare-W Boyne.
National Air and Space Museum of France.


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