The SA 330 Puma is a twin-engine helicopter intended for personnel transport and logistic support duties.
As a troop carrier, up to 16 soldiers can be seated on foldable seats, in a casualty evacuation configuration, the cabin can hold six litters and four additional personnel, the Puma can also perform cargo transport duties, using alternatively an external sling or the internal cabin, with a maximum weight of 2500 kg.
In a search and rescue capacity, a hoist is commonly installed, often mounted on the starboard fuselage.
A pair of roof-mounted Turbomeca Turmo turbo shaft engines, power the Puma’s four-blade main rotor.
The helicopter’s rotors are driven at a speed of roughly 265 rpm via a five reduction stage transmission.
The design of the transmission featured several unique and uncommon innovations for the time, such as single-part manufacturing of the rotor shaft and the anti-vibration measures integrated into the main gearbox and main rotor blades
The Puma also featured an automatic blade inspection system, which guarded against and alerted crews to fatigue cracking in the rotor blades.
There are two hydraulic systems on board, these operate entirely independent of one another, one system powers only the aircraft’s flight controls while the other serves the autopilot, undercarriage, rotor brake, and the flight controls.
In flight, the Puma was designed to be capable of high speeds, exhibit great manoeuvrability, and have good hot-and-high performance, the engines have an intentionally high level of reserve power to enable a Puma to effectively fly at maximum weight with only one functioning engine and proceed with its mission if circumstances require.
The cockpit has conventional dual controls for a pilot and co-pilot, a third seat is provided in the cockpit for a reserve crew member or commander.
The Puma features a SFIM-Newmark Type 127 electro-hydraulic autopilot; the autopilot is capable of roll and pitch stabilization, the load hook operator can also enter corrective adjustments of the helicopter’s position from his station through the autopilot.
The Puma is readily air-transportable by tactical airlift aircraft such as the Transall C-160 and the Lockheed C-130 Hercules, the main rotor, landing gear, and tail boom are all detachable to lower space requirements.
Ease of maintenance was one of the objectives pursued in the Puma’s design; many of the components and systems that would require routine inspection were positioned to be visible from ground level, use of life-limited components was minimized, and key areas of the mechanical systems were designed to be readily accessed.
The Puma is also capable of operating at night time, in inhospitable flying conditions, or in a wide range of climates from Arctic to desert environments.
Although not included during the original production run, numerous operators of Pumas have installed additional features and modern equipment over the aircraft’s service life.
The RAF have equipped their Puma fleet with Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation equipment, along with an assortment of self-defence measures including infrared jammers and automatic flares/chaff dispensers, and night vision goggles for night-time flights.
The French Army Light Aviation have modernized their Pumas to meet International Civil Aviation Organization standards, this involved additional digital systems to the aircraft, this has included new mission command and control systems, such as the Sitalat data link.