Société Nationale des Constructions Aéronautiques du Sud-Est
In France, the aviation industry had been taken over by the government before World War II. After the war, two companies, Sud-Est and Sud-Ouest, pursued various helicopter projects. Sud-Est developed the three-seat Alouette I prototype. The Alouette II, which first flew in March 1955, had a turbine engine and quickly broke the world helicopter altitude record. It entered production one year later in a five-seat version and soon became a highly popular helicopter.
Sud-Est built a line of aircraft including a passenger airliner, the Languedoc, the Alouette series of helicopters, and a fighter, the Mistral. The Mistral was a British De Havilland Vampire built under license.
Sud-Ouest and Sud-Est were merged into Sud-Aviation in 1957, and the company eventually produced over 1,600 examples of the Alouette II and its derivatives. They were supplied to military and civilian users in approximately 50 countries. A high-altitude version dubbed the Lama was also produced in France and Brazil and manufactured under license in India by Hindustan, which named it the Cheetah. The Cheetah was used heavily in the Himalayan Mountains for various tasks, including rescuing injured mountain-climbers.
During the early 1960s Sud-Ouest manufactured several Sikorsky helicopters under license and developed the Puma medium twin turbine-powered helicopter. The Puma became popular with military and civilian users and found widespread use in the offshore oil industry. In 1970, Sud-Ouest and several other firms merged into a single company named Aérospatiale.
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