After the crash of a Super Puma H225 in Norway late April, we found it not easy to differentiate the various helicopters that make up the Airbus Helicopters' Super Puma family; and no wonder, they go back a long way. Here’s the history.
It all started in 1968 with the Puma (SA330). A military helicopter weighing 15,400 lbs (7 metric tons), capable of carrying 15 soldiers over a distance of 340 miles (550 km); its production stopped in 1987.
In 1981, it was the Super Puma that came into being. With an additional length of over 16 feet (5 metres) more then the Puma, it has a new engine, and is easily recognizable by the two turbine air inlets. The then new 20,000 lbs (9 metric tons) chopper, available this time both in military (AS532 Cougar) and civil versions (AS332), has a range of 530 miles (850 kilometres) with a seating capacity for 19 passengers or 27 soldiers.
After a number of upgrades, the Super Puma was renamed the H215, and will be produced from next year in Romania.
The latest addition to the Super Puma family was commissioned in 2004. Known today as the H225 (formerly the EC225), the 24,300 lbs (11 metric tons) helicopter is equipped with new engines, new avionics, has a range of 680 miles (1,100 km), and also exists in a military version (the H225M - formerly the EC725 Caracal). The most visible external differences from the H215 are its five main rotor blades instead of the previous four.