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SA.313 Alouette II
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Eurocopter AS350 B
F-WTNV Aérospatiale SA341G Gazelle c/n 1006 - SNIAS - Twenthe AFB in Holland - 30 August 1974 Aérospatiale SA342M1 Gazelle

The Aérospatiale SA341G Gazelle is a small single-turbine-engine utility helicopter that can accommodate up to two crew and three passengers. The Gazelle is operated on transport, scouting and light attack duties. Development of the SA-341 Gazelle started in 1966 under Sud-Aviation banner as project X 300 to meet a French army requirement for a light observation helicopter with seating for five people to replace the Alouette II. Soon afterwards, the name SA 340 was adopted for the project when Sud-Aviation began working on the light observation helicopter. While in the final design stages the SA 340 attracted British interest as a replacement of the Bell Sioux. This British interest led to a joint development and production share-out agreement signed on 22 February 1967 and officially confirmed on 2 April 1968. This share-out agreement was part of the franco-british agreement to licence production that also included the Puma and Lynx helicopters. The Sud-Aviation SA-341 is the production derivate of the SA-340, two prototypes of which have been tested. The first SA340 prototype c/n 340-01 had a traditional tail rotor and performed its first flight with test-registration F-WOFH on 7 April 1967. It was powered by a Turboméca Aztazou IIN turboshaft and equipped with a new semi-rigid rotor with composite blades developed in a cooperative effort with Bolköw. The second SA-340 prototype c/n 340-02 featured the 13-blade shrouded anti-torque rotor, the newly designed 'Fenestron' tail rotor instead of a conventional tail rotor, to be utilised by the SA-341, flew first with test-registration F-ZWRA on 17 April 1968. Four pre-production SA341s were built, with the first, c/n 314-01 test flown as F-ZWRH on 2 August 1968. The third pre-production SA341, c/n 341-03, was equipped to British Army requirements, assembled and tested in France, and then re-assembled by Westland Helicopters Ltd in the UK as the prototype Gazelle AH.1. As Gazelle AH.1 it was first flown at Yeovil as XW276 on 28 April 1970. As the SA341 Gazelle was interesting for both the military and civilian market, CofA was requested. On 7 June 1972, National Certification of the Model SA 341 G was given by the DGAC-F. On 27 April 1976, the more powerful Model SA 342 J was certified by DCAG. Over the years 1775 Gazelle helicopters were built in France by Sud Aviation / Aérospatiale / Eurocopter and under licence by Westland Helicopters Ltd. in the United Kingdom as the Westland Gazelle; by SOKO in Yugoslavia as the SOKO HO-42 and variants; and by the Arab British Helicopter Company (ABHCO) in Egypt as the ABHCO SA-342 Gazelle.

On 1 January 1970, Sud-Aviation was merged with a number of other French aerospace companies to form the SNIAS (Société Nationale Industrielle Aérospatiale). From 1984, SNIAS operated under the name of Aérospatiale. The helicopter divisions of MBB from Germany and Aerospatiale from France merged in January 1992 to form the Eurocopter Group. As a result of the merger between the Eurocopter parents Aérospatiale-Matra; DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (DASA) and Construcciones Aeronàuticas Sociedad Anonima (CASA) in July 2000, the Eurocopter group became a division of the new formed EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space company). Taking off into 2014, EADS was rebranded as "Airbus Group". Uniting all its activities under a single brand, its helicopter division Eurocopter was rebranded as Airbus Helicopters on 8 January 2014.

The 1972-built Aérospatiale SA341G Gazelle s/n 1006 flew first with test-registration F-WTNV. On 30 August 1974, the SA341G Gazelle was present at the "Open Dag"of the Royal Netherlands Air Force at Twenthe AFB. In 1976, the Aérospatiale SA341G s/n 1006 was converted to an Aérospatiale SA342J and was flown as before by SNIAS as F-WTNV. Aérospatiale SA342J F-WTNV was not only used for tetst but also as demonstrator and in this role it was the first helicopter used by the Rijkspolitie (Dutch Police Force). In that period, the Gazelle was marked with RIJKSPOLITIE titles and was operated out of Driebergen. At the AVD police staion in Driebergen the Gazelle was parked in a garage next to the in the Netherlands well known Porsche 911 Targa's of the AVD (Algemene Verkeers Dienst). On 25 July 1980, the helicopter was re-registered F-GAMK with Aérospatiale Société Nationale Industrielle, Paris. Over the years, the Aérospatiale SA342J Gazelle F-GAMK was operated by companies like Héli-Normandie. On 28 November 1986, registration F-GAMK was cancelled as withdrawn from use and the aircraft was broken up.

page last updated: 01-09-2014
Copyright © Jack Wolbrink, Emmen, the Netherlands

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