Aerospatiale, March 15, 1999 - Marignane, France - On March 17, 1969 the SA315B Lama made its maiden flight. Three years later, on June 21, 1972, Jean Boulet reached an altitude of 12,442m, setting an outright world altitude record that remains unbeaten to this day.
What led originally to its design was a request for proposals put out by the Indian government in 1968 for a helicopter capable of landing at an altitude of 6000 meters with a 200kg payload.
To provide such performance, the engineers came up with a hybrid machine whose novelty resided in combining the Alouette 3 's power with the Alouette 2 's lightweight airframe.
The rotating parts of the Alouette 3 (engines, gearboxes, transmission, rotor blades) were therefore mounted on an Alouette 2 fuselage to produce a machine capable of meeting the Indian government's specs.
The Lama had no rivals in its own particular field until the advent in 1997 of the B3 version of the Squirrel. ( Ecureuil / Astar / Fennec )
A veritable 'flying crane', the Lama is still used by many customers for high- altitude and/or high-temperature aerial work (setting down pylons in mountain country, unloading timber, supplying mountain refuges, etc.).
To date, nearly 700 Lama helicopters (including those built under licence) have been delivered to 108 customers in 39 countries. One of them, No.2435 belonging to Roberts Aircraft in Arizona, USA, had logged 23,500 flight hours by the end of 1998.