The Aérospatiale SA.316B Alouette III is a single-engined utility helicopter that can accommodate up to 7 passengers. The
Alouette III was derived from the Alouette II featuring a more powerful turboshaft and enlarged cabin. Development
of the Sud-Est SE-3160 Alouette III started in the late 50s under Sud-Aviation banner. The first
of two prototypes, Sud-Aviation SE-3160 c/n 001 F-ZWVQ powered by one 550 hp Turboméca Artouste IIIB turboshaft,
was flown on 28 February 1959. Four pre-production machines followed the prototypes, and the first production
helicopter of this type, SE-3160 c/n 1001, was delivered as UB-6101 to Burmese Air Force on 25 July 1961. In the military role,
the Alouette III was used either to transport six fully equipped troops or as an assault helicopter. Certification was achieved
on 12 December 1961. The initial SE-3160 Alouette III remained in production until 1969, when it was replaced by the improved SA-316B Alouette III.
The Alouette III was developed over the years and remained in production until 1985. Over 1450 helicopters of the
different versions of the Alouette III were built, including production under licence in India, the Netherlands,
Pakistan, Romania and Switzerland.
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 1965-built Sud-Est SE.3160 Alouette III c/n 1292 was testflown in
Marignane as F-WJDB.
On 5 July 1965, this Alouette III entered
service as A-292 with the 299 squadron of the Groep Lichte Vliegtuigen (GpLV), in
fact the Army operating within the Royal Netherlands Air Force. In 1979,
the Alouette III was transferred to the 300 sqdn. In November 2004, the
SE.3160 Alouette III was modified by RUAG in Alpnach, Switzerland, to
the more powerful SA.316B and received a blue colour scheme. SA.316B
A-292 is mainly used for VIP-transport and the Royal Flights and was
until 2008 operated by the Alouette Flight at Soesterberg. On 27 August
2008, the remaining four Alouettes III moved to Gilze Rijen Air Base. At
Gilze Rijen they are operated by 300sqdn, part of the Defense Helicopter
Command. On 16 December 2015, Alouette III A-292 made her last flight at
Gilze Rijen Air Base and was withdrawn from use by the Defense Helicopter
Command. In 2019, the helicopter was sold to Malta, where it arrived on 19 September 2019.
On 12 September 2014, SA.316B Alouette III A-292 was seen at Gilze-Rijen AFB with
special '1964-2014 50 years Alouette III' markings, as the Alouette III was 50 years in
service with the Royal Netherlands Air Force.