Eurocopter AS 332 L1 Super Puma

Eurocopter AS 332 L1 Super Puma (c/n 2050, German Federal Police / Bundespolizei) static display at spotter day organized on the eve of the 100th Anniversary of the German Naval Aviation (Marineflieger), Nordholz air base, August 2013.

Back in the early 1970s, the then Federal Border Guard (Bundesgrenzschutz/BSG) of the West German state purchased twenty-three Aérospatiale SA 330J Puma rotorcraft. The helicopters were delivered between 1973 and 1979, opening the service record of the Puma rotorcraft family with the German police forces.

The German SA 330s were capable of flying under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) and were equipped with weather radar and external cargo hook. At the end of the next decade, BSG acquired three more rotorcraft of the Puma family, but this time in their new, upgraded variant designated AS 332 Super Puma (D-HEGA, D-HEGB and D-HEGC).

In 2005, a few years after the reunification of Germany, the BSG was transformed into Federal Police (Bundespolizei) and the BSG helicopter fleet was also taken over by the new formation. In the same year, the process of retiring the SA 330 rotorcraft was launched. The Pumas were successively withdrawn from the active service – with the last one being retired in 2008 – and were replaced by seven new and ten used Super Puma helicopters bought by the Federal Police between 2005 and 2011. The used ones were mostly the former off-shore rotorcraft that were overhauled and upgraded by Eurocopter / Airbus.

In 2019, the Federal Police acquired four more, new Airbus H215 rotorcraft (current designation of the AS 332 Super Puma). One of them, D-HEGX, was the 1000th helicopter from the Puma family made since the first flight of the SA 330 on 15th April 1965.

The Bundespolizei helicopter fleet is currently the largest non-military one in Germany. The Federal Police inventory includes ten EC 120/H120 rotorcraft used for training purposes, twenty-three Super Pumas, forty-two EC 135/H135 and nineteen EC 155/H155 helicopters.

The German Super Puma rotorcraft were already the subject of two main upgrade programmes. In 2015, the Federal Police announced that eighteen Super Pumas would be equipped with new avionics suite made by Universal Avionics. Four years later, an agreement was signed with the Heli One company to significantly modernize twenty Super Puma rotorcraft from the Bundespolizei fleet until 2027.

Within the Federal Police, the Super Puma helicopters are used for cargo and passenger transport purposes, including VIP and representatives of public administration, as well as for search and rescue missions, civil defence tasks and humanitarian aid.

One of the most spectacular rescue actions performed by the German police helicopters was during Elbe flood disaster (Elbe-Hochwasserkatastrophe) in August of 2002, when the BGS rotorcraft managed to save more than 2,600 lives.