Super Puma helicopters: Workhorse of the offshore oil industry
SUPER Puma helicopters are regarded as the workhorses of the offshore oil industry. However, they have been involved in a number of incidents in recent years, raising concerns about safety.
The five-bladed Super Puma EC225 helicopter was first commissioned in the late 1970s. In the early years of oil exploration, passengers and pilots wore normal clothing with no life-jackets. Pressure from offshore and pilots’ unions led to intensive safety training for those on board.
The helicopters are used by more than 1,000 civil operators and 37 militaries worldwide.
Built by France-based Eurocopter, the 11-ton, twin-engine helicopters are also a favourite for transporting VIPs.
First flown in April 1965 as the Sud Aviation SA 330A Alouette IV, the French Puma was designed to fill an Aviation Légère de l’Armée de Terre (French Army Aviation) requirement for a medium troop transport helicopter.
Apart from the 8m-long cabin, the type’s attractions include low noise and vibration levels and large windows, along with high performance and long range.
Other roles have included supporting the United Nations peace-keeping force in Mozambique. It is well suited to operations in Africa, being able to take off with full tanks even in temperatures of 30°C.
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