SA-316 / SA-319 Alouette III
The light transport and multipurpose helicopter Aérospatiale SA-316 "Alouette III" is a larger and very successful development of the SE-313B "Alouette II". In contrast to its predecessor, it has an improved structure, a stronger propeller system, better equipment and a closed fuselage with cantilevers. The cabin is more spacious and can transport a larger payload.
The three-blade main rotor is mounted on the top of the fuselage to the rear of the cockpit. The single turboshaft engine is mounted above and to the rear of the cockpit and rotor shaft. The fuselage consists of an oval-shaped, glassed-in cockpit with fixed landing gear. The tail consists of rectangular flats with small, oval fins on tips. The rotor on the right has a prominent tail rotor guard.
The "Alouette III" is the most successful series of the "Alouette" helicopter family. It was found in countless countries and utilized in both the civil and military sectors. The Alouette 3, production of which ended in 1979, had 1437 units built, to which must be added nearly 500 built under licence in India and Romania. The Alouette 3 initially used a Turbomeca Artouste 3 gas turbine that is greatly derated, i.e. that was utilized well below its nominal rated power of 880hp. Intended for high-altitude flight, it retains its full performance up to an altitude of 5000 meters. Later, under the designation SA319B, it was equipped with the Astazou 3, a less fuel-thirsty engine of identical power.
The prototype SA 3160 was equipped with Artouste IIIB-Turbine and first lifted off from the ground on February 28, 1959. The first pre-series exemplar of the SA-316 A took off for the first time in July 1960. After two prototypes and two pre-series machines, series production began in 1961.
One of these first "Alouette III" landed and took off in July 1960 with seven people on board and reached an altitude of 4,810 m in the French Alps near Mont Blanc. In November 1960, the same helicopter achieved even more success that until then no other had ever achieved: it reached an altitude of 6,004 m in the Himalayas with two people and a payload of 250 kg on board which garnered international interest.
In June 1968, an improved version of the series, the SA-316B, took off for the first time. It had the same engine but possessed better rotor control gear. This helicopter was overall somewhat heavier and could carry a higher payload. The variation SA-316 C was equipped with a stronger engine Artouste III D in 1972. This model was only offered in low quantities.
Another development of the SA-316 V was an experimental helicopter SA-319D. It was developed to improve the thermal efficiency and to diminish fuel consumption with Astazou XIV-turbine. It lifted off for the first time in 1967. Series production first started in 1973.
The streamlined fuselage of the "Alouette III" was finished in a half-shell type construction and completely paneled. The completely vitrified cabin had four doors. Seating was quickly converted so that the entire space could be used for freight loading. The three-bladed main rotor was complemented with a rear rotor. Additionally, there was a higher stabilization surface at the rear. The stiff nose-undercarriage with three wheels resisted skids or floats.
The "Alouette III" was used both as a civil as well as a military aircraft. It was able to transport a pilot and six passengers. In a medic capacity, two stretchers, an injured person and a medic could be carried. As a loading helicopter, 740 kg freight in the cabin and 750 kg for outside load was conceivable. Aside from the loading harness for 750 kg on the loop, there was a maximum load of 175 kg. As a civil aircraft, it was used for surveillance during forest fires, control of overhead power lines, photographing aerial pictures and for geological research.
The military version was utilized partially for its highly sensitive weapon and radar mechanisms. Above all the SA-319B "Astazou" was equipped with ORB-31 radar and four AS.11/AS. 12-missiles for use in naval defense. For the purpose of submarine defense, the equipment available was the same radar, however, with Crouzet MAD and two Mk-46 torpedos.
The "Alouette III" had excellent controllability and high stability in low altitude flight. It belongs to the group of the most successful helicopters ever constructed in France.
As the series production ceased in France on May 1, 1985, 190 users from 92 countries had purchased 1,453 "Alouette III" for civil and military purposes. Aside from the 300 exemplars of the 1965 "Chetak" from HAL that were made in Bangalore, India until 1992, 230 helicopters were made known as "IAR 316 B" by ICA in Brasov, Romania. Switzerland and F+W were licensed to construct 60 "Alouette III S" between the years 1970 and 1974.