The Bolivian Air Force (FAB) has selected the latest high-power version of the Super Puma to fight drug trafficking and perform public-security and disaster-relief missions throughout the country. The contract includes a logistics package that will support fleet sustainability in the coming years. The first two helicopters will be delivered this year and the remaining four before 2016.
The signing of the contract underscores the pledge Bolivian President Evo Morales made at a meeting with his French counterpart Francois Hollande in New York last September, while allowing the FAB to renew and strengthen its fleet with helicopters boasting the latest technology. The contract also includes a logistical support package that aims to provide the FAB with the resources and know-how it needs to ensure high fleet availability.
“We are very proud to provide our air force with latest-generation multi-role aircraft that will enable us to successfully carry out our ongoing missions and face the challenges of the future,” said General Victor Hugo Meneses Gomez, Air Chief Marshal of the Bolivian Air Force. The helicopters will mainly be used to combat drug trafficking and will also carry out public-security and disaster-relief missions throughout the country. General Meneses added: “Bearing in mind the extreme operating conditions in Bolivia, the Super Puma was chosen mainly because of its versatility, safety and, above all else, its ability to operate at high altitude.”
“We would like to thank the Bolivian Air Force for renewing their confidence in our helicopters,” said Mesrob Karalekian, Airbus Helicopters’ Vice-President of Sales and Customer Relations for Latin America. “The Super Puma is a powerful multi-role helicopter that is perfectly suited to the demands of operating in the region and which, thanks to its state-of-the-art onboard technology, allows missions to achieve more, all in complete safety.”
The relationship between Airbus Helicopters and the Bolivian Air Force began several decades ago with the Lama and the Alouette. The FAB now operates the Ecureuil AS350 B3 and, as of last year, two EC145s, which are used to transport dignitaries and conduct missions in support of the population.
With this latest purchase, the FAB will benefit from a technology transfer program that includes the training of more than 80 technicians and pilots in France and Bolivia. It will also be supplied with special tools for setting up a maintenance center, where intermediate inspections (every 500 hours) will be carried out, and two operational bases for smaller inspections (every 100 hours), the objective being for the FAB to acquire strategic autonomy.
The Super Puma family is particularly well-suited to operations in Latin America, where more than 100 helicopters are in service and more than 60 are on order. Its ability to operate at high altitude (up to a certified service ceiling of 7,620 meters), in the jungle, and at extreme temperatures (ranging from -45°C to 50°C) allows it to meet the region’s unique challenges, especially in the mountains and plateaus of the Andes, where altitude and temperature often prove challenging.
Fast, powerful, reliable and safe, Airbus Helicopters’ Super Puma is a highly cost-effective aircraft thanks to its low direct maintenance costs (DMC) and fuel consumption, and its 30 percent lower lifecycle costs compared to other aircraft in the same class. It is also equipped with latest-generation technology such as the four-axis automatic flight control system (AFCS), which enhances mission efficiency by reducing the pilot’s workload while also increasing safety during take-off and landing.
With more than 4.75 million flight hours around the world – an unmistakable hallmark of its quality and reliability – Airbus Helicopters’ Super Puma family has become the benchmark in the nine-to-11 ton class and is in service in virtually every country in Latin America. Of the 830 helicopters delivered to date, more than 75 percent are operated by the continent’s armed forces, performing a wide variety of missions that range from assault and combat to special operations, tactical transport, SAR, medical evacuation and the transport of high-ranking officials. Among the major assets of this helicopter, which can be rapidly configured for different missions, are its adaptability and versatility. These facets have helped it earn the confidence and trust of 94 customers in 48 countries.
Airbus Helicopters, formerly Eurocopter, is a division of Airbus Group, a global pioneer in aerospace and defense related services. Employing approximately 22,000 people worldwide, Airbus Helicopters is the world’s No. 1 helicopter manufacturer with a turnover of 6.3 billion euros. The company’s fleet in service includes some 12,000 helicopters operated by more than 3,000 customers in approximately 150 countries.