Aerospatiale SA.330 "Puma"


To fill a French army requirement for an all-weather medium-lift transport helicopter, Sud Aviation (later to become part of Aerospatiale) designed the SA 330.

This, France's first attempt to build a medium helicopter without outside technical contributions, was a resounding success, though the all-weather capability did not come until after several years of development.

The first deliveries of SA 330Bs to the French army took place in 1969, the type becoming operational the following year.

Meanwhile, the last preproduction Puma was being modified by Westland for the RAF. After promising tests, a joint production agreement was reached and the British firm built 48 SA 330Es (Puma HC.Mk Is).

Aerospatiale went on to build 686 SA 330s (before switching production to the Super Puma in 1981) in successively improved versions for numerous export customers. These included civil operators, especially those in the oilfield support industry once the all-weather capability was available in the SA 330J and L. Between 1970 and 1984, Aerospatiale sold 126 civil models in all.

Romanian company IAR began license production in 1977 and by 1994 had built over 200. Production of the IAR-330L continues and there are plans for an upgraded Puma 2000.

R.Jackson "Helicopters. Military, Civilian, and Rescue Rotorcraft", 2005


In the early 1960s Sud-Aviation began the design and development of a twin turbine-powered helicopter that would not only meet a French army requirement for an all-weather tactical and logistic transport, but which would be suitable also for use by other armed forces. The first of two prototypes made its maiden flight on 15 April 1965, and the Anglo-French helicopter agreement (concluded on 2 April 1968) gave Westland Helicopters in the UK joint production of these aircraft. Intended initially for service with the French army and the Royal Air Force, the latter required this helicopter for deployment as a tactical transport.

The fuselage of the SA 330 Puma, as this aircraft has been named, is a conventional all-metal semi-monocoque structure, with the powerplant mounted externally on top of the fuselage shell and forward of the main rotor assembly. The rotor is driven via a main gearbox, with twin free-wheeling spur gears to combine the outputs of the two turboshaft engines to a single main drive shaft. In the event of an engine failure the remaining engine continues to drive the rotor, and should both engines fail the auto-rotating main rotor continues to drive the auxiliary take-offs for the shaft-driven tail rotor, alternator, dual hydraulic pumps, and ventilation fan. The tail boom, which carries the flapping-hinge five-blade tail rotor on the starboard side and a horizontal stabiliser on the port side, is a monocoque continuation of the aft fuselage. Early main rotor blades were of light alloy construction, but those fitted since 1976 are composite units of glassfibre, carbon fibre and honeycomb construction, with anti-abrasion leading edges of stainless steel. The landing gear is of the semi-retracting tricycle type, with twin wheels on each unit, all of which are partly exposed when retracted.

There have been a number of changes in powerplant: the first SA 330Bs for the French army and air force, and the SA 330Es for the Royal Air Force, were powered by Turmo III C4 turboshaft engines with a take-off rating of 990kW; and the SA330C/H military export versions, first flown in September 1968, had originally 1044kW Turmo IVBs, but from the end of 1973 SA 330H aircraft were equipped with 1174kW Turmo IVC engines which include anti-icing of the engine air intakes. The first SA 330F/G civil versions had Turmo IVA engines of 1070kW as first flown on 26 September 1969 and delivered from the end of 1970; but like the SA 330H the SA 330G acquired Turmo IVC engines from the end of 1973; and this latter power-plant is installed also on the SA 330J (civil) and SA 330L (military) helicopters which were introduced in 1976.

Accommodation of the SA 330J provides for a standard crew of two on the flight deck, and the cabin can have 8, 9, or 12-seat VIP layouts, or can seat up to 20 passengers in a high-density configuration, with a toilet and baggage compartment at the rear of the cabin. Equipped with thermal de-icing of the main rotor blades, thermal anti-icing of the tail rotor blades, special intakes and weather radar, the SA 330J can be flown in all weather conditions, including known icing conditions, since receiving certification in this form on 25 April 1978.

D.Donald "The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft", 1997


First flown in April 1965 the SA.330A was designed as a medium-weight troop transport. Under an Anglo-French agreement in 1967 the SA.330 Puma was developed by Sud-Aviation and Westland Helicopters to fill an RAF and French Army (ALAT) requirement for a medium troop transport helicopter. After several trial examples were built the production of the Puma was started in 1968 with the first UK-built Pumas joining the RAF in 1971. Powered by twin 1115kW Turbomeca Turmo IVC turboshafts the Puma can carry sixteen combat troops at 260kph for a range of 555km. In 1977 a licence was granted for the Puma to be built in Romania.

P.Allen "The Helicopter", 1996

SA.330 Puma

Medium-lift 20-troop military helicopter with retractable tricycle u/c and four-blade main rotor driven by two 1320shp Turbomeca Turmo III.C4 turboshafts positioned in housing above main cabin. Prot. F-ZWWN FF 14 Apr. 1965. Jointly built by Aerospatiale and Westland. Originally named Alouette IV.


Puma SA.330 for French ALAT.

SA.330C Puma

Military export version of SA.330B.


Puma SA.330 for RAF designated HC.1.


Puma SA.330 for civil customers.


Puma SA.330F for commercial customers with 1575shp Turmo IVC turboshafts.


Puma SA.330G for ALAT and overseas military customers.


Puma SA.330G with composite main rotor blades and higher weights. Some assembled by IPTN in Indonesia.


Puma SA.330H with composite main rotor blades and higher weights.

SA.330R Puma

Stretched SA.330 used as development aircraft for Super Puma.

SA.330S Puma

Portuguese SA.330C modified by OGMA with composite main rotor and two 1700shp Turbomeca Makila I turboshafts.


Puma SA.330 fitted with experimental tail fenestron. Prot F-ZWRR. Error, registration was F-ZWWRF-ZWRR was used on SA.360C Dauphin.

IAR.330L Puma

Puma manufactured in Romania by IAR with 1588shp Turbomeca Turmo IV-CA turboshafts.


Puma SA.330 used as development aircraft for SA.332 Super Puma with two 1755shp Turbomeca Makila turboshafts and redesigned rotor head. Also known as SA.330R. F-ZWWO FF 5 Sept. 1977.

The first discussions which led to the evolution of the SA.330 took place in 1962, when the Armee de Terre made known its requirements for a minimum-size tactical and logistics transport helicopter capable of all-weather operation. At about this time Sud-Aviation were completing two modified examples of the Sikorsky S-58 (which Sud had been building under licence), each of which was fitted with a 1900shp Turbomeca Bi-Bastan shaft turbine engine, and the first of these machines flew on 5 October 1962. The S-58 development was not pursued, but the SA.330, as first envisaged was to have been powered by two 1300shp Bastan VII's and able to transport 12 troops.

When development of the SA.330 and the production of seven test aircraft (two prototypes and five pre-series machines) was authorised by the STAe in June 1963, Turmo III free turbines of the same rating were selected in preference to the Bastan powerplant. The evaluation aircraft were allotted civil registrations F-ZWWN to 'WT, and the first of them made its maiden flight on 15 April 1965; all of these, plus a sixth pre-series aircraft, were flying by mid-1968, and production has now started. Initially this is to meet orders for fifty-four for the Aviation Legere de I'Armee de Terre, forty-eight for the British services and twenty for export.

Although intended primarily as a combat support transport, the SA.330 may also be employed in the ambulance role, accommodating 6 stretchers and 6 sitting casualties; or as a flying crane, with a 2500kg external sling load. In the transport role it can carry up to 20 troops. Other applications include mountain rescue, with a hoist capable of lifting a 175kg load, or executive transport with a 6-seat luxury cabin. The SA.330 carries a crew of 2. The main rotor blades fold back to facilitate stowage, and all landing wheels retract, although they protrude slightly as a safeguard for emergency landings. The aircraft's size and weight put it officially in the light transport helicopter category, for which class it has an excellent performance. An SA.331 project was studied, which would have had an anti-torque jet nozzle at the rear instead of a tail rotor, but this development has not been pursued.

K.Munson "Helicopters And Other Rotorcraft Since 1907", 1968

This aircraft was the result of a French Army specification drawn up in 1962 for a medium/light tactical and logistic transport helicopter capable of all-weather operation, defined as an "helicoptere de manoeuvre". At the time, Sud-Aviation, who had the license to build the Sikorsky S-58, was working on a version of its own, with a 1900shp Turbomeca Bi-Bastan turbine, which flew on 5 October 1962. However this helicopter would only have been a compromise solution and with the time and opportunity to develop something that represented a technological advance, the French company began work on the SA.330 which was to be powered by two 1300shp Bastan VII turbines.

In June 1963, the War Ministry allocated 20 million francs for development of the SA.330 (then called Alouette IV). A full-size mock-up, seen at the Paris Air Show that year, was similar to the final version apart from the shape of the nose. In the meantime, the Bastan engines were replaced by 1300shp Turmo III C4s which had already been tested on the Super Frelon. The first of two prototypes was ready by 15 April 1965.

The SA.330 was more closely related to the Super Frelon than the Alouette III in appearance, particularly in terms of the shape of the fuselage, which had two turbines mounted on the top, and the five-blade anti-torque rotor. The fully-articulated main rotor had four extruded aluminum blades. The payload exceeded that of the specification, the aircraft being capable of carrying 18 troops with full individual armament plus two crew. The first five pre-production aircraft with these characteristics appeared in 1967, all with civil registrations, while the sixth had a different nose, which was standardized on the production aircraft. As a result of the trials programme this compact, efficient aircraft won the approval of the French Army, which ordered 130 (designated SA.330H). Development of this helicopter received a considerable boost in 1967 when the RAF chose the Puma for its Tactical Transport Programme, and 40 Pumas were ordered from Westland, as part of an agreement with Sud-Aviation.

The Puma remained in production in France for more than ten years in various commerical and military versions, although its specific role is for troop transport. The SA.330 can also carry a considerable weapon load, in the form of a GIAT M693 20mm side-firing cannon, or two fixed 7.62mm machine gun installations at the side, or wire-guided missiles such as the Nord SS.11 or SS.12 or HOT Euromissiles. Thirty of the SA.330B, which is the version for the French ALAT (Army Air Corps), were built from spring 1969.

The SA.330C export version also went into production in 1969, while the RAF's SA.330E Puma HC Mk.1s built by Westland in 1970-71 were assigned to No.33 and 230 Squadrons. The SA.330F civil version flew in September 1969 powered by 1290shp Turmo lVA engines. It was later superseded by the SA.330J, introduced in 1976, and the SA.330L for military use. Both have 1580shp Turmo IVC engines and composite material main rotor blades. The SA.330J has also been certified for all-weather operation and has an efficient anti-icing system on both the rotor blades and air intakes.

G.Apostolo "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Helicopters", 1984

The twin-engined SA 330 Puma was developed initially to meet a French Army requirement for a medium-sized helicoptere de manoeuvre, capable of operating by day and night in all weathers and climates. In 1967, the SA 330 was selected for the RAF Tactical Transport Programme, and was included in the joint production agreement between Aerospatiale and Westland in the UK.

The first of two SA 330 prototypes flew on 15 April 1965, and the last of six preproduction models on 30 July 1968, followed in September by the first production aircraft.

On 25 April 1978, the SA 330J became the first helicopter outside the Soviet Union to be certificated for all-weather operations, including flight in icing conditions.


SA 330B: Initial military production version; delivered to ALAT (French Army Air Corps) from Spring 1969; two 984kW Turmo IIIC_4 turboshaft engines. First flown January 1969.

SA 330B Orchidee: Prototype for battlefield surveillance version, fitted with ESB Orchidee 360° radar and datalink system.

SA 330C: Military export version; similar to SA 330B with provision for fixed or retractable undercarriage; some fitted with surveillance radar and flotation gear.

SA 330E: Westland-built version for Royal Air Force (RAF), designated HC Mk 1. Forty built.

SA 330F: First civil version with 1,070kW Turmo IVA engines. First flown 26 September 1969; French certification 12 October 1970; FAA IFR certification 23 June 1971.

SA 330G: Uprated model for civil and military markets; two 1,174kW Turmo IVC engines; composite main rotor blades.

SA 330H: Export military version of SA 330G.

SA 330J/L: Civil (J) and military (L) versions introduced in 1976 with main rotor blades of composite materials. Increased maximum T-O weight.

IAR-330L: Licence-built by IAR Brasov in Romania.

Oryx: Upgraded Puma by Denel (Atlas Aviation) in South Africa.


A total of 697 SA 330 Pumas had been sold by 1987 when Aerospatiale ceased production to concentrate on the AS 330 Super Puma. Sole source.

DESIGN FEATURES: Four-blade main rotor, with a fully articulated hub and integral rotor brake. Attachment of each blade to its sleeve by two quick-disconnect pins enables blades to be folded back quickly by manual methods. The five-blade tail rotor has flapping hinges only, and is located on the starboard side of the tailboom. Mechanical shaft and gear drive. Main gearbox on top of cabin behind engines, has two separate inputs from the engines and five reduction stages. Drive to the tail rotor is via shafting and an intermediate angle gearbox, terminating at a right-angle tail rotor gearbox. The hydraulically controlled rotor brake, installed on the main gearbox, permits stopping of the rotor 15 seconds after engine shutdown.

STRUCTURE: Each of the moulded blades is made up of a glass fibre roving spar, a composite glass fibre and carbonfibre fabric skin, with Moltoprene/honeycomb filler. The leading-edge is covered with a stainless steel protective section. The fuselage is a conventional all-metal semi-monocoque structure. Local use of titanium alloy under engine installation, which is outside the main fuselage shell. Monocoque tailboom supports the tail rotor on the starboard side and a horizontal stabiliser on the port side.

SYSTEMS: Optional blade de-icing system, with heating mat protected by titanium shielding on leading-edge of each main and tail rotor blade.

LANDING GEAR: Messier-Hispano-Bugatti semi-retractable tricycle type, with twin wheels on each unit. Main units retract upward hydraulically into fairings on sides of fuselage; self-centring nose unit retracts rearward. Hydraulic differential disc brakes, controlled by foot pedals. Lever-operated parking brake. Emergency pop-out flotation units can be mounted on rear landing gear fairings and forward fuselage.

POWER PLANT: Two Turbomeca Turmo IVC turboshaft engines, each with maximum rating of 1,175kW and fitted with intake anti-icing. Engines are mounted side by side above cabin forward of the main rotor assembly and separated by a firewall. They are coupled to the main rotor transmission box, with shaft drive to the tail rotor, and form a completely independent system from the fuel tanks up to the main gearbox inputs. Fuel in four flexible tanks and one auxiliary tank beneath cargo compartment floor, with total capacity of 1,544 litres. Provision for additional 1,900 litres in four auxiliary ferry tanks installed in cabin. External auxiliary tanks (two each 350 litres capacity) can be fitted. For long-range missions (mainly offshore) one or two special internal tanks each 215 litres can be fitted in the cabin. Each engine is supplied normally by a pair of interconnected primary tanks, the lower halves of which have self-sealing walls for protection against small calibre projectiles.

ACCOMMODATION: Crew of one or two side by side on anti-crash seats on flight deck, with jump-seat for third crew member if required. Door on each side of flight deck on later versions. Internal doorway connects flight deck with folding seat in doorway for an extra crew member or cargo supervisor. Dual controls standard. Accommodation in main cabin for 16 individually equipped troops, six stretchers and six seated patients, or equivalent freight. The number of troops can be increased to 20 in the high-density version. Strengthened floor for cargo-carrying, with lashing points. Jettisonable sliding door on each side of main cabin; or port-side door with built-in steps and starboard-side door in VIP or airline configurations. A hatch in the floor below the centreline of the main rotor is provided for carrying loads of up to 3,200kg on an internally mounted cargo sling. A fixed or retractable rescue hoist (capacity 275kg) can be mounted externally on the starboard side of the fuselage. The cabin can be equipped in 8/9/12-seat VIP, 17-seat commuter or 20-seat high-density layouts, with baggage compartment and/or toilet facilities in the rear of cabin.

SYSTEMS: Two independent hydraulic systems, each 172 bars, supplied by self-regulating pumps driven by the main gearbox. Three-phase 200V AC electrical power supplied by two 15 kVA 400Hz alternators driven by the port side intermediate shaft from the main gearbox and available on the ground under the same conditions as the hydraulic ancillary systems. 28.5V 10kW DC power provided from the AC system by two transformer-rectifiers. Main aircraft battery used for self-starting and emergency power in flight. De-icing of engines and engine air intakes by warm air bled from compressor. Anti-snow shield for Winter operations.

AVIONICS AND EQUIPMENT: Optional communications equipment includes VHF, UHF, tactical HF and HF/SSB radio installations and intercom system. Navigational equipment includes radio compass, radio altimeter, VLF Omega, Decca navigator and flight log, Doppler, and VOR/ILS with glide path. Autopilot, with provision for coupling to self-contained navigation and microwave landing systems. Full IFR instrumentation available optionally. The search and rescue version has nose-mounted Bendix RDR 1400 or RCA Primus 40 or 50 search radar, Doppler, and Decca self-contained navigation system, including navigation computer, polar indicator, roller-map display, hover indicator, route mileage indicator and groundspeed and drift indicator.

ARMAMENT: A wide range of armament can be carried, including side-firing 20mm cannon, axial-firing 7.62mm machine guns, missiles and rockets.

Jane's Helicopter Markets and Systems

Technical data for Aerospatiale SA-330J "Puma"

Engine: 2 x Turbomeca Turmo IVC turboshaft, rated at 1174kW, main rotor diameter: 15.0m, length with rotors turning: 18.15m, width: 5.14m, take-off weight: 7400kg, empty weight: 3766kg, cruising speed: 258km/h, service ceiling: 4800m, range: 550km


Early SA.330 concept with ducted-fan and V-tail