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Super Puma

AS332 Super Puma
An AS332 L2 from Hong Kong Government Flying Service (HKGFS) touches down on the USS Mobile Bay (CG-53)
Role Medium Utility Helicopter
Manufacturer Aérospatiale
Indonesian Aerospace (under license)
First flight 13 September 1978
Status Active
Primary user CHC Helicopter
Produced 1978-present
Unit cost
US$15.5 million, €12.5 million (2006)
Developed from Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma
Variants Eurocopter AS532 Cougar
Developed into Eurocopter EC225
Eurocopter AS725 Super Cougar

The Eurocopter AS332 Super Puma is a four-bladed, twin-engine, medium-size utility helicopter marketed for both civil and military use. Originally designed and built by Aérospatiale, it is an enlarged and re-engined version of the original Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma. First flying in 1978, the Super Puma succeeded the SA 330 Puma as the main production model of the type in 1980; since 1990 Super Pumas in military service have been marketed under the AS532 Cougar designation. In civilian service a next generation successor to the AS 332 was introduced in 2004, the further-enlarged Eurocopter EC225 Super Puma.



In 1974, Aérospatiale commenced development of a new medium transport helicopter based on its SA 330 Puma, announcing the project at the 1975 Paris Air Show. While the new design was of similar layout to the AS 330, it was powered by two of the new and more powerful Turbomeca Makila turboshaft engines driving a four-bladed composite main rotor, and was designed to withstand damage better, with a more robust fuselage structure, a new crashworthy undercarriage and the ability to withstand battle damage to the rotor blades and other key mechanical systems.[1] It was fitted with a ventral fin under the tail, a more streamlined nose compared with the SA 330,[2] while from the start was planned to be available with two fuselage lengths, with a short fuselage version offering similar capacity to the SA 330, which gives better performance in "hot and high" conditions and a stretched version allowing more passengers to be carried when weight is less critical.[3]

A pre-production prototype, the SA 331, modified from a SA 330 airframe with Makila engines and a new gearbox, flew on 5 September 1977.[4] The first prototype of the full Super Puma made its maiden flight on 13 September 1978, being followed by a further five prototypes.[5] Flight testing revealed that, in comparison with the SA 330 Puma, the AS 330 Super Puma had a higher cruise speed and range, in part due to the Makila engine having a greater power output and a 17% reduction in fuel consumption per mile; the Super Puma also demonstrated far superior flight stabilisation tendencies and was less reliant upon automated corrective systems.[6] Development of the military and civil variants was carried out in parallel, including the certification process.[7] The first civil model was delivered in 1981.[8]

Production and improvements

In 1980, Aerospatiale had replaced the older SA 330 Puma with the newer AS 332 Super Puma as the firm's primary utility helicopter.[9] The AS 332 Super Puma proved to be highly popular; in between July 1981 and April 1987 there was an average production rate of 3 helicopters per month being built for customers, both military and civil.[10] IPTN, an Indonesian aerospace company, also manufactured both the SA 330 and AS 332 under license from Aerospatiale for domestic customers;[11] during the 1990s Iran also procured a number of Indonesian-built Super Pumas.[12]

The Super Puma has proved especially well-suited to the North Sea oil industry, where it is used to ferry personnel and equipment to and from oil platforms. One of the biggest civil operators of the type is Bristow Helicopters, who have a fleet of at least 30 Super Pumas. By 2005, various models of Super Puma have been operated by 38 different nations for a wide variety of purposes;[11] a total of 565 Super Pumas (including military-orientated Cougars) had been delivered or were on order at this point as well.[13]

The success of the AS 332 Super Puma led to the pursuit of extended development programs to produce further advanced models; features included lengthened rotor blades, more powerful engines and gearboxes, increases in takeoff weight, and modernised avionics.[10] A wide variety of specialised Super Puma variants followed the basic transport model into use, including dedicated Search and rescue (SAR) and Anti-submarine warfare (ASW) versions. Military Super Pumas have been marketed as the AS532 Cougar since 1990. As a fallback option to the NHIndustries NH90, a Mark III Super Puma was also considered for development.[10]

Operational history

Presidential transport

VH-34 is the Brazilian Air Force designation of the helicopter used to transport the President of Brazil. Two modified Super Pumas have seen use as the main presidential helicopters, having been configured to carry up to fifteen passengers and three crew members.[14]

Various French Presidents, such as François Mitterrand, have used military Super Pumas as an official transport during diplomatic missions.[15]


During the 1980s, the French Army were interested in developing a specialised airborne battlefield surveillance radar, using the Super Puma Mk II as the host aircraft. The first prototype Orchidée was assembled at Aerospatiale's Marignane factory and began testing in late 1988; the French Army intended to procure 20 aircraft to equipped two squadrons. Orchidée was described as having a pulse-Doppler radar mounted on the fuselage's underside, being capable of 360 degree scanning to detect low flying helicopters and ground vehicles at ranges of up to 150 km; gathered data was to be relayed in real time to mobile ground stations via a single-channel data link for processing and analysis before being transmitted to battlefield commanders. The system was said to be capable of all-weather operation, and would feature protection against counteracting hostile electronic countermeasures.[16] However, development of the system was aborted in mid-1990 as part of the post-Cold War defence spending reductions.[17]

In June 1994, France decided to intervene in the ongoing Rwandan Genocide and sent a military task force to neighboring Zaire; Super Pumas provided the bulk of the task force's rotary lift capability, transporting French troops and equipment during their advance into Rwanda.[18]


Various nations deployed Super Pumas to the Afghan theatre during the War in Afghanistan.[19][20]


  • SA 331- Initial prototype, based on SA 330 airframe, first flew on 5 September 1977.[5]
  • AS 332A - Commercial pre-production version.
  • AS 332B - Military version.
  • AS 332B1 - First military version.
  • AS 332C - Production civil version.[8]
  • AS 332C1 - Search and rescue version, equipped with a search radar and six stretchers.[8]
  • AS 332F - Military anti-submarine and anti-ship version.
  • AS 332F1 - Naval version.
  • AS 332L - Civil version with more powerful engines, a lengthened fuselage, a larger cabin space and a larger fuel tank.[8]
  • AS 332L1 - Stretched civil version, with a long fuselage and an airline interior.[8]
  • AS 332L2 Super Puma Mk 2 - Civil transport version, fitted with Spheriflex rotor head and EFIS.[8]
  • AS 332M - Military version of the AS 332L.
  • AS 332M1 - Stretched military version.
  • NAS 332 - Licensed version built by IPTN, now Indonesian Aerospace (PT. Dirgantara Indonesia).
  • VH-34 - Brazilian Air Force designation for the two VIP configured Super pumas, serial numbers 8737 and 8740



 Hong Kong
 New Zealand
  • Heli Harvest Limited [31]
 United Kingdom
 United States


 Democratic Republic of the Congo
 Saudi Arabia
 South Korea
 United Arab Emirates

Notable accidents and incidents

  • 14 March 1992 — G-TIGH lost control and crashed into the North Sea near East Shetland Basin. 11 of the 17 passengers and crew died.[46]
  • 19 January 1995 — G-TIGK Operated by Bristow Helicopters ditched in the North Sea. There were no fatalities, however the aircraft was lost.
  • 8 September 1997 — LN-OPG, an AS332 L1 operated by Helikopter Service AS from Brønnøysund to the Norne oil field suffered a catastrophic main gearbox failure and crashed, killing all 12 aboard.[47] Eurocopter accepted some but not all of the AAIB/N recommendations.[48]
  • 11 August 2000 — A Swedish armed forces HKP-10 Super Puma crashed into a cliffside in the Kebnekaise mountains during an alpine rescue mission. All three crewmen aboard died, the aircraft was totally destroyed. Since only abut 70% off the aircraft was recovered, the reason was unable to determine.
  • 18 November 2003 - A Swedish armed forces HKP-10 Super Puma crashed during night time sea rescue exercises. Six out of the seven crew onboard died. SSRS Märta Collin, the boat conducting the exercise, rescued the lone survivor from the sea.
  • 21 November 2006 — A Eurocopter AS332 L2 search and rescue helicopter ditched in the North Sea. The aircraft was equipped with two automatic inflatable life rafts, but both failed to inflate. The Dutch Safety Board afterwards issued a warning.[49]
  • 18 February 2009 - While on approach to the ETAP oil production platform located 132 nm east of Aberdeen at night, observers on the platform witnessed the helicopter appear to strike the surface of the sea, resulting in the loss of the aircraft.
  • 1 April 2009 — A Bond Offshore Helicopters AS332L2 with 16 people on board crashed into the North Sea 13 miles (21 km) off Crimond on the Aberdeenshire coast; there were no survivors.[50] The AAIB's initial report found that the crash was caused by a "catastrophic failure" in the aircraft's main rotor gearbox epicyclic module.[51]
  • 27 December 2010 — A Hong Kong Government Flying Service (GFS) AS332L2 Super Puma made a controlled emergency landing in Shing Mun Reservoir while picking up water from the reservoir for hill fire fighting operation. Three crew members onboard had safely exited the helicopter which floating on water surface. It was caused by No. 2 Engine shut down automatically due to an overspeed signal on transition to forward flight.
  • 11 November 2011 — XC-UHP AS332-L Super Puma of Mexico's General Coordination of the Presidential Air Transport Unit crashed in the Amecameca region south of Mexico City. Mexico's Secretary of the Interior Francisco Blake Mora died in this accident along with seven other crew and passengers.[52]
  • 28 March 2012 — A Venezuelan Air Force Super Puma crashed during anti-drug operations in the Venezuelan state of Apure, killing all seven crew members on board.[53]
  • 10 May 2012 - The crew of the helicopter carried out a controlled ditching following indications of a failure of the main gearbox (MGB) lubrication system and, subsequently, a warning indicating failure of the emergency lubrication system. (EC225)
  • 22 October 2012 — A Super Puma performed an emergency landing immediately following a gearbox lubrication warning indicator. (EC225)
  • 21 March 2013 — During a readiness exercise, a German Federal Police (Bundespolizei) Eurocopter EC155 collided with a Super Puma on the ground while landing in whiteout conditions in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, Germany, destroying both aircraft, killing one of the pilots and injuring numerous bystanders. The whiteout was caused by snow on the ground being stirred up by the helicopter downdraft.[54]
  • 23 August 2013 — A Super Puma L2 helicopter G-WNSB experienced a (so far unexplained) loss of air speed on a low approach and ditched into the North Sea two miles west of Sumburgh Airport at about 18:20 BST. The aircraft experienced a hard impact and overturned shortly after hitting the water however its armed flotation system deployed and the vehicle stayed afloat. Four passengers were killed, while both crew and a further 12 passengers were rescued, most with injuries. To date, the AAIB stated it was not caused by mechanical failure.[55] [56][57]

Specifications (AS332 L1)

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Data from Eurocopter profile,[58] Jane's Aircraft Recognition Guide[8]

General characteristics


Specifications (AS332 L2)

Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1993-94 [59]

General characteristics
  • Crew: 2
  • Capacity: 24 passengers plus attendant
  • Length: 16.79 m (including tail rotor) (55 ft 0½ in)
  • Rotor diameter: 16.20 m (53 ft 1½ in -rotates clockwise)
  • Height: 4.97 m (16 ft 4 in)
  • Disc area: 206.12 m² (2,217 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 4,660 kg (10,274 lb)
  • Useful load: 4,490 kg (9,899 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 9,150 kg (20,172 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Turbomeca Makila 1A2 turboshaft, 1,376 kW (1,845 shp) each


See also

Aviation portal

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists


  • Charbonneau, Bruno. France and the New Imperialism: Security Policy in Sub-Saharan Africa. Ashgate Publishing, 2008. ISBN 0-75469-078-4.
  • Endres, Günter G. and Michael J. Gething. Jane's Aircraft Recognition Guide. HarperCollins UK, 2005. ISBN 0-00718-332-1.
  • Hoyle, Craig. "World Air Forces Directory". Flight International, Vol. 182, No. 5370, 11–17 December 2012. pp. 40–64. ISSN 0015-3710.
  • Hunter, Shireen. Iran's Foreign Policy in the Post-soviet Era: Resisting the New International Order. ABC-CLIO, 2010. ISBN 0-31338-194-1.
  • Jackson, Paul. "Super Puma". Air International, January 1984, Vol. 26 No. 1. ISSN 0306-5634. pp. 7–12, 33–35.
  • Lake, Jon. "Variant File: Super Puma and Cougar: AS 332, AS 532 and EC 725". International Air Power Journal, Volume 3, Winter 2001/2002. Norwalk, Ct, USA:AIRtime Publishing, 2002. ISSN 1473-9917, ISBN 1-880588-36-6. pp. 80–93.
  • Lambert, Mark. "Super Puma: Cat with More Muscle." Flight International, 11 August 1979. pp. 437-439.
  • Lambert, Mark (editor). Janes's All The World's Aircraft 1993-94. Coulsdon, UK:Jane's Data Division, 1993. ISBN 0-7106-1066-1.
  • McGowen, Stanley S. Helicopters: An Illustrated History Of Their Impact. ABC-CLIO, 2005. ISBN 1-85109-468-7.
  • Ripley, Tim. Conflict in the Balkans 1991-2000. Osprey Publishing, 2010. ISBN 1-84176-290-3.

External links

  • Eurocopter's official website for Super Puma


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