A look back at the maiden flight of the high-altitude helicopter that broke barriers.
The Alouette III SA3160, flown by Jean Boulet and Robert Malus, completed its maiden flight in Bourget on 28 February 1959.
Marignane, 28 February 2019 – Airbus Helicopters NEWS ARTICLE.
This 3rdgeneration Alouette was characterised by its extended cabin capable of holding six passengers alongside the pilot and was equipped with sliding doors. Its main rotor was 11 metres in height, compared to 10.2 metres for the Alouette II and its payload was increased by 250 kg.
A contender for high-altitude flights.
The Alouette III had notched up successes very quickly. On 12 June 1960, the first prototype landed on the summit of Mont Blanc with seven people on board, demonstrating its excellent performance at high altitudes. Some months later, on 6 November 1960, the 2nd prototype landed on the summit of the Deo Tibba mountain in the Himalayas at an altitude of more than 6,000 m during a demonstration in India. During a demonstration tour in Africa, the Alouette III landed on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, some 6,000 metres above sea level on 18 February 1973 and then on the summit of Mount Kenya, 5,500 m above sea level, a few days later. The helicopter quickly established itself as a helicopter capable of flying at very high altitudes.
A worldwide success story.
The first aircraft of this series was delivered to Burma on 25 July 1961. The Alouette III was the first helicopter for which the serial manufacturing process took place entirely in Marignane, France. More than 1,400 aircraft were manufactured for 120 customers in 80 countries, including South Africa, Portugal and the Netherlands. In turn, France ordered 180 aircraft for its armed forces and para-public services. The Alouette III was also manufactured under license in India, under the name ‘Chetak’, in Pakistan, Romania and in Switzerland, with a total of more than 600 prototypes.
The Alouette III fleet accumulated more than 7 million flight hours by the end of 2018. Today, nearly 180 aircraft still continue to be in service.