Military Factory logo

Aerospatiale SA315B Lama

France (1971)
National Flag Graphic
Origin: France
Year: 1971
Type: Light Utility Helicopter
Manufacturer(s): Aerospatiale (Eurocopter / Airbus Helictopers) - France / Helibras - Brazil / Hindustran Aeronautics Limited (HAL) - India
Production: 550
Status: Active, In-Service


Combining the performance and capabilities of the Aerospatiale Alouette III with the framework of the Aluoette II gave rise to the SA 315B Lama Hot-and-High light helicopter.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Aerospatiale SA315B Lama Light Utility Helicopter.  Entry last updated on 6/21/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The SA 315B "Lama" was developed by Aerospatiale of France during the 1960s specifically to meet a military requirement by the Indian and Nepali armies for a "Hot-and-High" performer to operate in the more unforgiving parts of the region (namely the mountainous sectors). The result was the SA 315B "Lama" which essentially became an offshoot of the company's successful Alouette II light utility helicopter coupled with the power and performance capabilities of the Alouette III. The Lama went on to see global popularity in its own right and was in widespread use at its peak under the national flags of many operators including the Indian Air Force (IAF).

First-flight by way of a prototype was had on March 17th, 1969 and series introduction occurred in July of 1971. The helicopter remains in service today (2017) with several global operators though numbers are dwindling some with each passing year.

As built, the SA 315B featured a minimum operating crew of one and could carry up to four passengers in relative comfort (or and external cargo load of 2,500lb). Overall length was 33.6 feet with a width of 36 feet and a height of 10 feet. POwer was from a Turbomeca Artouste IIIB series turboshaft engine developing 550 horsepower (derated from 870 horsepower) and performance included a maximum speed of 120 miles per hour, a range out to 320 miles and a service ceiling of 17,715 feet. Rate-of-climb measured 1,080 feet-per-minute.

Externally the helicopter was given a very workmanlike appearance. The cockpit was enclosed in a light framework with heavily glazing that offered excellent vision and gave the helicopter a insect-like appearance. Immediately aft of the cabin was the engine installation which drove both the three-bladed main rotor and three-bladed tail rotor (the latter via a shaft). The tail rotor was set to the starboard side of the aircraft and served to counter the torque effect cause by the main rotor spin. The tail unit was exposed, made up of a basic frame of connected struts and this helped to keep the helicopter lightweight and inexpensive. The undercarriage was of a simple four-point skid assembly which allowed for landings virtually anywhere, even rugged terrain. The skids could also employ cargo holders along their length to give the small helicopter a limited equipment transport capability.

Beyond manufacture of the helicopter by French-based Aerospatiale, the Lama was also produced under local license by Brazil under Helibras (now a subsidiary of Airbus Helicopters) and by India under the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) brand label.

Major variants were the original SA 315B production model fitting the Turbomeca Artouste IIIB turboshaft engine. The Brazilian contribution became the HB 315B "Gaviao" which was a copy of the SA 315B. Indian models were the HAL "Cheetah" (SA 315B) and the HAL "Lancer", the latter which was a light armed combat model incorporating such features as armament support, reinforced cockpit glass and armor protection for basic survivability. The Lancer was introduced in the 1990s. The HAL "Cheetal" then followed the Lancer as a modernized form and was in 2006. This version was powered by the Turbomeca TM333-2M2 series turboshaft engine which increased overall performance.

The Lama series held the world air record for absolute altitude by a helicopter at 40,814 feet from the period spanning June of 1972 until July of 2017.

Any available statistics for the Aerospatiale SA315B Lama Light Utility Helicopter are showcased in the areas immediately below. Categories include basic specifications covering country-of-origin, operational status, manufacture(s) and total quantitative production. Other qualities showcased are related to structural values (namely dimensions), installed power and standard day performance figures, installed or proposed armament and mission equipment (if any), global users (from A-to-Z) and series model variants (if any).






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 150mph
Lo: 75mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (121mph).

    Graph average of 112.5 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Aerospatiale SA315B's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
550
550


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
  Compare this entry against other aircraft using our Comparison Tool  
Global Operators:
Afghanistan; Angola; Argentina; Bolivia; Chile; Ecuador; El Salvador; India; Morocco; Namibia; Nepal; Pakistan; Peru; Togo
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Aerospatiale SA315B model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
1


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
33.63 ft


Meters
10.25 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
36.25 ft


Meters
11.05 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
10.17 ft


Meters
3.1 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
2,524 lb


Kilograms
1,145 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
4,850 lb


Kilograms
2,200 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Turbomeca Artouste IIIB turboshaft engine developing 870 horsepower and driving a three-bladed main rotor and three-bladed tail rotor.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
121 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
195 kph


Knots
105 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
320 mi


Kilometers
515 km


Nautical Miles
278 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
17,717 ft


Meters
5,400 m


Miles
3.36 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
1,080 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
329 m/min

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft heavy machine gun
Graphical image of aircraft aerial rockets
Armament - Hardpoints (0):

Typically none. Armed military models by HAL of India have mounted weapon pods fitted with 1 x 12.7mm heavy machine gun and 3 x 70mm rockets.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• SA 315B "Lama" - Base Series Designation
• HB 315B "Gaviao" - SA 315B produced by Helibras of Brazil.
• "Cheetah" - SA 315B produced by HAL of India
• "Lancer" - Armed combat version by HAL of India; reinforced cockpit panels, armoring and weapons support.
• "Cheetal" - HAL modernized version of the Lancer; Turbomeca TM333-2M2 engine; increased performance and capabilities.