Airbus (Eurocopter/Aérospatiale/Sud Aviation) Puma, Super Puma & Cougar family

It is not for nothing that this is called a family, because after several iterations (and names) this helicopter is still in production. The helicopter in question started its life as Sud Aviation (later Aérospatiale) SA330 Puma. The stretched variant was at first marketed as Aérospatiale AS332 Super Puma and AS532 Cougar, for the military version. Later Aérospatiale became part of Eurocopter, and the helicopters were renamed EC225 and EC725. Nowadays, the manufacturer is Airbus Helicopter, that markets the helicopters as H215, H225 and H225M. 

All versions more or less have the same basic appearance. A typical feature is the location of the two turboshaft engines, on top of the fuselage and in front of the main rotor axis. The air intakes are above the cockpit, the exhausts at the side of the gear box/engine hub. All variants have a high mounted tail rotor on the right side, with a single horizontal stabiliser on the opposite side. The retractable nose gear always has two wheels, while the main gear can have one or two wheels on each leg. The main gear is retracted in sponsons or small stubs, depending on the version.

The location of the engines, in front of the main rotor axis and with air intakes above the cockpit, is a key recognition point of the SA330, AS332, EC225 and H225 family.

All versions of the (Super) Puma & Cougar family have the same cockpit window arrangement, with windows in four rows, of which the top one is the lowest.

Different versions

To distinguish the different versions of the (Super) Puma & Cougar family you will have to look at

  • the number of wheels on the main landing gear
  • the number of main rotor blades
  • the number of tail rotor blades
  • the size of the sponsons
  • the presence of a ventral fin
  • the shape of the top of the vertical stabiliser
  • the shape of the nose

Details will be added later.

Confusion possible with



The helicopter most similar in appearance to the (Super) Puma family is the Korean KUH‑1, especially regarding the location of the engines and the shape of the tail area. However, the KUH-1 has a fixed landing gear. (photo: Jang Su Lee/WikiMedia)

Mil Mi-8/Mi-17


Only the location of the two engines may make you consider the Mi-8 to be a (Super) Puma version. But the fixed landing gear, narrow tail boom and two horizontal stabi­lisers will quickly make you realise that it isn't.

NHIndustries NH90


While similar in size to the Puma and having a similar gear as the Super Puma, the NH90 has enough differences to avoid confusion: engines behind the rotor axis, a tail rotor on the left side, a low mounted horizontal stabiliser on the right, to name a few.