Aerospatiale SA-332L Super Puma VH-BHT (c/n 2042) at Darwin, NT in 1997 (David C Eyre)
Country of origin:
Medium-lift utility helicopter
(AS 332L): Two 1,309-kw (1,755-shp) Turbomeca Makila turboshafts
- Rotor diameter: 15.08 m (49 ft 6 in)
- Length overall: 18.70 m (61 ft 4 in)
- Height: 4.92 m (16 ft 1 in)
- Max cruising speed: 277 km/h (172 mph)
- Max inclined climb rate: 552 m/min (1,810 ft/min)
- Hovering ceiling in ground effect: 2,999 m (9,840 ft)
- Range: 850 km (528 miles)
- Empty weight: 4,370 kg (9,635 lb)
- Loaded: 9,000 kg (19,840 lb)
The AS 332 Super Puma was a development of the SA 330 Puma, which flew for the first time in April 1965. As the type had proved itself in military service in Europe, and in the civil role with off-shore oil rig operators, Aerospatiale (later to become known as Eurocopter) developed the type by enlarging it slightly overall, increasing gross weight, and installing more powerful 1,309-kw (1,755 shp) Makila turboshafts. Other changes included new avionics, and composite rotor blades.
The first production standard prototype was flown on 13 September 1978, and a number of variants were marketed, including: AS 332B, a military version accommodating 20 troops; AS 332C, a commercial model seating 17 passengers; AS 332M, a military version of the AS 332L with accommodation for 20 troops; and the AS 332L, which had the fuselage lengthened by 76.5 cm (2 ft 6 in) and which, in its AS 332L2 variant, has 1,376-kw (1,845-shp) Makila 1A2 turboshafts. The first of the latter variant was flown on 10 October 1980 and it could accommodate 21 persons in its civil role.
The type has been very successful in oil-rig work, and is known as the Tiger when operated in the North Sea. A number of examples have been registered in Australia over the years and used on oil-rig supply work, with some 25 in operation in Australia in late 2012 in Western Australia. Well over 500 examples have been completed. Production version at the turn of the century was the SA 332L2 Puma Mk II, which is known as the Cougar in military service, and this featured a fuselage stretch to permit a further row of seats, allowing 24 persons to be carried, EFIS flight instrumentation, spheriflex rotor heads, and longer main rotor blades with parabolic tips.
A number have operated in this region. These were SA 332 Ls and included: VH-BHT (c/n 2042 – ex G-TIGJ) exported to the UK as G-TIGJ; VH-BHH (c/n 2059 – ex G-TIGW); VH-BHK (c/n 2096); VH-BHV (c/n 2092) exported to the UK as G-BRXU, later going to Nigeria; VH-BHX (c/n 2079) and VH-BHY (c/n 2129).
Another operator was Lloyd Helicopters which imported two AS 332 L1s in 1995 (VH-LAF – c/n 2319; VH-LAG – c/n 2352) to service an oilfield contract in the Timor Sea, the aircraft being based at Troughton Island, 370-km (230 miles) from Darwin. These machines were also used in support of Australian operations in East Timor with Unamet. Lloyd Helicopters subsequently imported further examples, these including VH-LHG (c/n 2317),VH-LHJ (c/n 2063) and VH-LHK (c/n 2107). An AS 332L Mk II Super Puma (F-WZLK) was delivered to Alice Springs, NT on 14 January 1991 on board a Short Belfast where it spent some time conducting hot weather tests before being returned to Europe on 25 January 1991.
An example, an AS 332 L1 was registered in New Zealand as ZK-HHI (c/n 2240 – ex JA-9670), arriving at Ardmore on 10 May 2013 and operated for a period with Heli Harvest. It required some work by Eurocopter at Ardmore, making its first flight in New Zealand on 26 March 2014. In September that year it was exported to Austria where it became OE-XLP with Heli Austria.
The type is also extensively used by the Singapore Air Force and, following a defence agreement between the Australian Government and the Singapore Government, twelve Republic of Singapore Super Pumas (known as the As 532UL Cougar) and 250 personnel initially took up residence at the Australian Army base at Oakey in 1997 where they were used for maintaining pilot / aircrew flying skills and operational capabilities and support for arm exercises, operating with No 126 Squadron They remain in Australia and are housed in a new facility built at Oakey.
These machines have also been seen visiting airshows around the country. Aerospatiale in the mid 1980s made a concerted effort to win a contract to supply twin-engines AS 332B Super Pumas to the RAAF, the Singapore Air Force at about that time ordering 24, it being a competitor with the Westland W30-400, the Bell JVX tilt-rotor machine, and the Sikorsky Blackhawk. In the event the latter won the contract.
In late 2015 Bristow Helicopters withdrew from service its last two AS-332Ls from service, these being VH-BHX and VH-BHY, these aircraft having from 2002 to 2008 been operating services from Karratha and Barrow Island to oil rigs in the north-west of Australia.