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G-MANN Aérospatiale SA341G Gazelle c/n 1295 - Groningen Airport Eelde in Holland - 20 August 1992 Aérospatiale SA342M1 Gazelle

The Aérospatiale SA341G Gazelle is a small single-turbine-engine utility helicopter that can accommodate up to two crew and three passengers. The Gazelle is operated on transport, scouting and light attack duties. Development of the SA-341 Gazelle started in 1966 under Sud-Aviation banner as project X 300 to meet a French army requirement for a light observation helicopter with seating for five people to replace the Alouette II. Soon afterwards, the name SA 340 was adopted for the project when Sud-Aviation began working on the light observation helicopter. While in the final design stages the SA 340 attracted British interest as a replacement of the Bell Sioux. This British interest led to a joint development and production share-out agreement signed on 22 February 1967 and officially confirmed on 2 April 1968. This share-out agreement was part of the franco-british agreement to licence production that also included the Puma and Lynx helicopters. The Sud-Aviation SA-341 is the production derivate of the SA-340, two prototypes of which have been tested. The first SA340 prototype c/n 340-01 had a traditional tail rotor and performed its first flight with test-registration F-WOFH on 7 April 1967. It was powered by a Turboméca Aztazou IIN turboshaft and equipped with a new semi-rigid rotor with composite blades developed in a cooperative effort with Bolköw. The second SA-340 prototype c/n 340-02 featured the 13-blade shrouded anti-torque rotor, the newly designed 'Fenestron' tail rotor instead of a conventional tail rotor, to be utilised by the SA-341, flew first with test-registration F-ZWRA on 17 April 1968. Four pre-production SA341s were built, with the first, c/n 314-01 test flown as F-ZWRH on 2 August 1968. The third pre-production SA341, c/n 341-03, was equipped to British Army requirements, assembled and tested in France, and then re-assembled by Westland Helicopters Ltd in the UK as the prototype Gazelle AH.1. As Gazelle AH.1 it was first flown at Yeovil as XW276 on 28 April 1970. As the SA341 Gazelle was interesting for both the military and civilian market, CofA was requested. On 7 June 1972, National Certification of the Model SA 341 G was given by the DGAC-F. On 27 April 1976, the more powerful Model SA 342 J was certified by DCAG. Over the years 1775 Gazelle helicopters were built in France by Sud Aviation / Aérospatiale / Eurocopter and under licence by Westland Helicopters Ltd. in the United Kingdom as the Westland Gazelle; by SOKO in Yugoslavia as the SOKO HO-42 and variants; and by the Arab British Helicopter Company (ABHCO) in Egypt as the ABHCO SA-342 Gazelle.

On 1 January 1970, Sud-Aviation was merged with a number of other French aerospace companies to form the SNIAS (Société Nationale Industrielle Aérospatiale). From 1984, SNIAS operated under the name of Aérospatiale. The helicopter divisions of MBB from Germany and Aerospatiale from France merged in January 1992 to form the Eurocopter Group. As a result of the merger between the Eurocopter parents Aérospatiale-Matra; DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (DASA) and Construcciones Aeronàuticas Sociedad Anonima (CASA) in July 2000, the Eurocopter group became a division of the new formed EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space company). Taking off into 2014, EADS was rebranded as "Airbus Group". Uniting all its activities under a single brand, its helicopter division Eurocopter was rebranded as Airbus Helicopters on 8 January 2014.

The 1975-built Aérospatiale SA341G Gazelle 1 s/n 1295 flew first with test-registration F-WKQH. In February 1977, the Gazelle was registered N47316 in the USA with Aerospatiale Helicopters Corp., Grand Prairie, TX. In April 1977, registration N47316 was changed to N444JJ and in May 1977, to N44QQ as before with Aerospatiale Helicopters and finally to N44DQ. As N44DQ, the SA341G Gazelle entered service with San Joaquin Helicopters, Delano, California. On 18 November 1982, registration N44DQ was cancelled as exported to the UK. On 11 January 1983, the helicopter was registered G-BKLW in the UK with Helicopter Services, Weston-Super-Mare. On 14 April 1986, the Gazelle was registered G-MANN with International Trust Corp., Isle of Man. Since, the G-MANN was registered with a number of privat owners. On 29 October 2004, MW Helicopters at Stapleford Aerodrome, was registered as owner / operator of the Gazelle G-MANN. On 29 October 2004, the helicopter was registered with Nigel Edward Robert Brunt and on 21 November 2008, the G-MANN returned to MW Helicopters. In 2012, the G-MANN was repainted into a smart black and silver paint scheme. On 10 July 2014, registration G-MANN was cancelled as exported to Serbia and 23 July 2014, the Aérospatiale SA341G Gazelle was registered YU-HVZ with Martin Wood helicopters. Although registered in Serbia, the helicopter was not exported to Serbia but to the Netherlands. Since July 2014, Aérospatiale SA341G Gazelle YU-HVZ is owned by P. van Zutphen and based at Best in the Netherlands. The helicopter is registered in Serbia to make it easier to have the maintenance carried out by SOKO.
On 25 July 1993, when chartered from a privat owner in London, a strange incidente with the helicopter was reported: after completion of the pre-flight checks and briefing the passengers, the helicopter departed for a flight from Islay to Carlisle. Immediately after take off, the pilot noticed a vibration which he believed to be blade tape becoming detached. He landed the aircraft immediately and found that the front catch on the right side of the gearbox cowling was undone and the aft cowling link hinge was broken. The pilot then fastened the forward catch; made sure the cowling was in its correct position and then continued the flight. After the completion of this flight, the pilot flew this helicopter to Thruxton airfield, where it was routinely maintained. Subsequent inspection by the maintenance company revealed that both sides of the cowling were crackedclose to the rear fastening clip. It was also found that the rear end of both cowlings had been abraded at the sides of the cut-out for the tail rotor inclined drive and that the drive-shaft itself was abraded. The damage to both the cowling and the drive-shaft were sufficiently severe that all had to be replaced. Although the rear link hinge was broken, the other hinge and all the clip fasteners were serviceable and in good adjustment. The loss of the rear link hinge considerably reduces the positive location of the aft end of the cowling, allowing it to drop down and move laterally.
On 20 August 1992, Gazelle G-MANN was seen at Groningen Airport Eelde in the Netherlands. At that time the helicopter was based at Weston Heliport in London.

page last updated: 05-05-2020
Copyright © Jack Wolbrink, Emmen, the Netherlands

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