The SA316 Alouette III is a single-engine, light utility helicopter developed by Sud Aviation and later manufactured by Aérospatiale of France. A successor to the Alouette II being larger and having more seating it was originally powered by a Turbomeca Artouste IIIB turboshaft engine.
Recognised for its mountain rescue capabilities and adaptability, the first version the SE 3160 prototype flew on 28 February 1959. Production of the SA 316A began in 1961 and the type remained in production until the early 1980's when the main production line in France was closed down. However, HAL of India continues to licence-build Alouette IIIs as the Chetak. Versions of the Alouette III were also either licence-built or assembled by IAR in Romania (as the IAR 316), F+W Emmen in Switzerland, and by Fokker and Lichtwerk in the Netherlands.
In June 2004, the Alouette III was retired from the French Air Force after 32 years of successful service. In the same year, the Swiss Armed Forces announced the retirement of the Alouette III, from the front line by 2006, and entirely by 2010. Venezuelan Air forces retired their Alouette IIIs in the late 90s.
At Baldonnel on 21 September 2007 the Alouette III was retired from the Irish Air Corps. During 44 years of successful service, the fleet amassed over 77,000 flying hours. As well as routine military missions, the aircraft undertook some 1,717 Search and Rescue Missions, saving 542 lives and flew a further 2,882 Air Ambulance flights.
"202" — The Alouette III in the Ulster Aviation Society hangar
202’s flying career came to an abrupt end on the 20th October 1995, after ditching in the county Donegal lake of Lough Eske, whilst on a joint army and police search operation for a missing man. Fortunately her crew scrambled clear and 202 was subsequently recovered. However plans to return the airframe to flight status came to nothing and she was transferred to the Corps Engineering Wing for use as an instructional airframe, on the 12th January 1996.
When the Alouette fleet was being retired enquiries were made regarding the potential aquistion of an example for the collection.
202 was refurbished and repainted by Air Corps volunteers before it was presented to the Ulster Aviation Society by the Irish Government in a ceremony held in the Irish Air Corps main base at Baldonnel, on the 27th May 2009.
202's FLIGHT HISTORY
Alouette 202 joined the Irish Air Corps helicopter Squadron on the 24th March 1972. During an operational life spanning over two decades, tasking was destined to include such missions as search & rescue, air ambulance, military support operations and VIP flights.
Rear view of SA316 Alouette III helcopter ("202)