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Aérospatiale Puma

The SA 330 Puma is a twin-engine helicopter designed for personnel transport and logistic support missions.

It can carry up to 16 soldiers on foldable seats, or in a casualty evacuation setup, it can accommodate six litters and four additional personnel.

The Puma is also capable of cargo transport, utilising either an external sling or the internal cabin with a maximum weight capacity of 2500 kg.

For search and rescue operations, a hoist is typically mounted on the starboard fuselage.

The Puma is powered by a pair of roof-mounted Turbomeca Turmo turbo shaft engines, which drive the helicopter’s four-blade main rotor at approximately 265 rpm through a five-reduction stage transmission.

The transmission design of the Puma incorporated numerous innovative features for its time, including the unique manufacturing process of the rotor shaft and the integration of anti-vibration measures in both the main gearbox and main rotor blades.

Additionally, the aircraft was equipped with an automatic blade inspection system to detect and alert crews to fatigue cracking in the rotor blades.

The Puma also boasted two independent hydraulic systems, with one dedicated to powering the flight controls and the other serving the autopilot, undercarriage, rotor brake, and additional flight controls.

During flight, the Puma demonstrated high speeds, exceptional manoeuvrability, and impressive hot-and-high performance, thanks to engines with a generous reserve power capacity that allowed the aircraft to continue its mission even with only one functioning engine at maximum weight.

In the cockpit of the Puma helicopter, there are conventional dual controls for both the pilot and co-pilot.

Additionally, there is a third seat available for a reserve crew member or commander.

Equipped with a SFIM-Newmark Type 127 electro-hydraulic autopilot, the Puma offers advanced features.

The autopilot is capable of roll and pitch stabilisation, ensuring a smooth flight experience.

Moreover, the load hook operator can make corrective adjustments to the helicopter’s position through the autopilot from their station.

The Puma is designed to be easily transported by tactical airlift aircraft like the Transall C-160 and the Lockheed C-130 Hercules.

To optimize space requirements, the main rotor, landing gear, and tail boom are detachable.

When it comes to maintenance, the Puma prioritises ease of access.

Many components and systems that require routine inspection are positioned to be visible from ground level.

The use of life-limited components is minimised, and key areas of the mechanical systems are designed to be readily accessed.

The Puma helicopter is highly versatile and can operate effectively in challenging conditions.

It is capable of flying at night, in harsh weather conditions, and in various climates ranging from Arctic to desert environments.

Throughout its service life, many operators of the Puma have chosen to enhance its capabilities by installing additional features and modern equipment.

Although these upgrades were not originally included during the production phase, they have proven to be valuable additions.

For instance, the Royal Air Force (RAF) has equipped its Puma fleet with advanced navigation equipment, including the Global Positioning System (GPS).

Additionally, they have incorporated various self-defence measures, such as infrared jammers, automatic flares/chaff dispensers, and night vision goggles for nighttime operations.

Similarly, the French Army Light Aviation has undertaken a modernisation program to ensure their Pumas meet the standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

This modernisation effort involved integrating digital systems into the aircraft, including new mission command and control systems like the Sitalat data link.





16 passengers


18.15 m (59 ft 6½ in)

Rotor diameter

15.00 m (49 ft 2½ in)


5.14 m (16 ft 10½ in)

Disc area

177.0 m² (1,905 ft²)

Empty weight

3,536 kg (7,795 lb)

Max take-off weight

7,000 kg (15,430 lb)


2× Turbomeca Turmo IVC turbo shafts,

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


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.

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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