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.
Here one image of the Sud-Aviation SA330J PumaI-EHPF… while operating for Heli-TV wearing full Elitos colors and Italian registration. Lugano Agno Airport, July 1991. The helicopter was cancelled from the Italian registered a few weeks later and registered HB-XXR only for her ferry flight to France … where was delivered to a new operator.
I-ORLY was originally registered in Italy during the month of June 1982 and operated by Eli Alpi … this beautiful Sud-Aviation SA315B Lama ( c/n 2627 ) was subsequently operated by Airgreen for several A.I.B. seasons in Sardinia … andsadly, cancelled the 12th Junefrom the Italian Register after 36 years of activity. Thanks to Egidio FERRIGHI for this great image taken at Alà dei Sardi (OT) in September 2013.
Celebrating one of Airbus Helicopters’ most recognizable innovations
Continues to set new standards with the H160
Marignane, 12 April 2018 – On the 12th of April 1968, the first Fenestron took to the skies on the second prototype of the Gazelle. It has since become emblematic of Sud Aviation, Aerospatiale, Eurocopter and now Airbus helicopters with the H160 carrying this sound-reducing, safety-enhancing technology into the next generation of rotorcraft. The idea behind shrouding the tail rotor was initially developed to provide additional safeguards for workers on the ground but also to protect the tail rotor in forward flight and in complicated operational environments, such as working around high-voltage power lines. Sound reduction benefits followed after much research and optimisation from one generation of the Fenestron to the next. Originally called the “Fenestrou”, which is Provençal for “little window”, the term evolved into the renowned Fenestron. It was first certified on the Gazelle in 1972 and then subsequently integrated into the first single-engine Dauphin prototype, whose first flight was in June 1972. Trials were then conducted with a seven-tonne Puma in 1975, however, with its diameter of 1m60 and its 11 tail rotor blades it required too much power for the Fenestron to bring an operational advantage on this class of helicopters. The second generation came at the end of the 1970’s with an all-composite Fenestron, which increased the diameter of the new Dauphin’s Fenestron by 20% up to 1m10. This improvement was motivated by the U.S. Coast Guards’ requirement for a highly manoeuvrable aircraft for Search and Rescue operations. The U.S. Coast Guards aircraft are still in service today and have accumulated more than 1.5 million flight hours. In the meantime, research continued to optimise the shape of the Fenestron, blade foils, and to improve sound reduction, especially during certain phases of flight. Between 1987 and 1991 it was successfully tested on an Ecureuil, the prototype of which is still on display at the entrance to Airbus Helicopters’ headquarters in Marignane. In 1994, the 3rd generation was fitted onto the H135 and optimized sound levels by using an uneven setting of the blades. In 1999 the H130 performed its maiden flight with a Fenestron derived from this version. The H145 followed suit in 2010. 50 years on, the H160 possesses the latest and largest Fenestron to be built on an Airbus helicopter with a diameter of 1m20. The fact that it is canted to 12° allows for improved performance with an additional payload and increased stability especially at low speed. With the H160 out to conquer the medium twin market, the Fenestron will be one of Airbus Helicopters’ signatures in the skies for decades to come.