From the Super Frelon to the EC225: Safran at the vanguard of air-sea rescue

The French Navy turns a page in its history by withdrawing from active service its last four Super Frelon helicopters, France's largest helicopter. Stepping in to fill the breach is the EC225, the first of which was delivered to the Navy in April of this year.

The Super Frelon, powered by a Turbomeca (Safran group) engine, has taken its final bow. Out of the 99 that were built, 29 served with French Naval Aviation. The last remaining helicopters in service formed a part of the French Navy's 32F squadron, based at the Lanvéoc-Poulmic naval airbase in Brittany.
The aircraft carried out air-sea rescue missions in the Mediterranean, the Atlantic and the English Channel. It was the only aircraft of its kind capable of executing sea rescue missions both by day and by night, and many sailors owe their lives to it. In other theaters of operation, its autonomy and robust engine design allowed it to take part in military missions such as anti-submarine warfare, maritime counterterrorism, and so on. The EC225, also powered by Turbomeca engines, now takes over its mantle.

New generation of turbines

The EC225 is built at Marignane, in southern France, by Eurocopter. Having received the first of its aircraft in April, 32F squadron will have at its disposal in the short term three of these ultramodern helicopters, each powered by two Makila 2A turboshaft engines. Another future attraction is the NH90 helicopter, with engines from Rolls-Royce Turbomeca, whose operational deployment is planned for 2011. The progress made from one generation to the next can be illustrated by the fact that the Super Frelon, a three-engined aircraft (Turmo IIIC7 turbines) measuring 23 m in length, took off with a maximum payload of 13 metric tons and offered an action radius of approximately 180 nautical miles (333 km); the twin-engined EC225 is just 19 m long, weighs 2 metric tons less on takeoff and offers an action radius of over 200 nautical miles.
Just like its predecessor, it is able to carry out a vast range of missions, whatever the weather conditions. So it's up, up and away!