Aerospatiale SA-341/342 Gazelle

  • CountryFrance
  • TypeUtility helicopter
  • PowerplantsSA-342 - One 640kW (858shp) Turboméca Astazou XIV turboshaft driving a three blade main rotor and Fenestron shrouded tail rotor.
  • PerformanceSA-342 - Max continuous speed 270km/h (146kt), cruising speed 238km/h (129kt). Hovering ceiling in ground effect 13,120ft. Range at sea level 785km (424nm), range with a 500kg (1102lb) payload 360km (194nm).
  • WeightsSA-342 - Empty equipped 975kg (2149lb), max takeoff 1900kg (4190lb).
  • DimentionsMain rotor diameter 10.50m (34ft 6in), fuselage length 9.53m (31ft 3in), height 3.18m (10ft 5in). Main rotor disc area 86.5m2 (931sq ft).
  • CapacityMaximum of five people including pilot. Rear seat can be folded down to accommodate freight.
  • ProductionMore than 1250 French built Gazelles have been delivered, although the large majority of these were for military service. Further production took place in the UK with Westland, and the former Yugoslavia.

Aerospatiale’s Gazelle (now Eurocopter’s) holds the distinction for being the first helicopter to showcase the now trademark Fenestron shrouded tail rotor system.

Gazelle are used in personal or corporate transport modes while civil use is very uncommon. Gazelle is used for military throughout the world and a number of armed forced variants exist.

Sud had fashioned the Gazelle as a variant of the Alouette II incorporating design elements such as the Alouette II Astazou's powerplant and transmission system and enclosing the tail rotor within the tail for safety on the ground.

The Gazelle prototype flew for the first time on April 7 1967 and was driven by the Astazou III, which remained as the standard powerplant on the subsequent SA-341 production model which had its maiden flight on August 16 1971.

Similar to the Puma, the Gazelle was built by Westland in England and by Aerospatiale in France as the result of a 1967 agreement.

The civil variant of the Gazelle was called SA-341G and was driven by the Astazou IIIA. It was the first helicopter to get certification for airborne usage under Cat I weather conditions in January 1975, further upgraded to Cat II operations. Stretched Gazelles are in effect Gazelles with their rear fuselage modified to allow an extra 20cm of rear legroom.

Later design elements included the SA-342 (sold from 1977 onwards) with the more powerful Astazou XIV and refined Fenestron design, but resulted in the SA-342J (civil varint) with a 100kg (220lb) increase in payload.

Gazelle was also manufactured by Soko (SA-341H and SA-342L Partizan) in the former Yugoslavia, and 30 SA-342L were assembled by ABHCo in Egypt.

Pictures of Aerospatiale SA-341/342 Gazelle