December 2016

2016 December photoSud Aviation SA.3210/Aérospatiale SA 321 and Avicopter (AVIC Helicopter Company) AC313 Super Frelon/AC313
SA.3210 first flight: December 7, 1962

The Aérospatiale (formerly Sud Aviation) SA 321 Super Frelon ("Hornet") is a three-engined heavy transport helicopter developed in France by what is now Airbus Helicopters.

The Super Frelon was developed by Sud Aviation from the original SE.3200 Frelon. The first flight of the Super Frelon was Dec. 7, 1962. A modified prototype Super Frelon helicopter was used on July 23, 1963 to break the FAI absolute helicopter world speed record with a speed of 217.7 mph. Both civilian and military versions of the Super Frelon were built, with the military variants being the most numerous by far, entering service with the French military as well as being exported to Israel, South Africa, Libya, China and Iraq. The helicopter is still in use by the Chinese military, where the locally-produced version is known as the Harbin Z-8.

Three military variants were produced: military transport, anti-submarine and anti-ship. The transport version is able to carry 38 equipped troops, or alternatively 15 stretchers for casualty evacuation tasks. The naval anti-submarine and anti-ship variants are usually equipped with navigation and search radar (ORB-42), and a 50 m rescue cable. They are most often fitted with a 20 mm cannon, countermeasures, night vision, a laser designator and a Personal Locator System. It can also be refueled in flight.

The Z-8 has been further developed by Avicopter into the AC313. First flight of the AC313 was on March 18, 2010, with operational introduction on Dec. 5, 2013, and features a modern integrated digital avionics system, three Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6B-67A engines, titanium/composite rotor blades, and extensive use of composite structures and materials. Designed to carry 27 passengers and two crew in the transport role, it has also been designed to be used for VIP transport, medical evacuations, and for search and rescue operations.

It is designed to carry 27 passengers, has a reported maximum range of 900 km, and a maximum takeoff weight of 13.8 t. In terms of cargo, it can carry up to 4 t internally or 5 t on a sling.

(Photos,,, main photo Aérospatiale)

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