PPRuNe Forums - View Single Post - "Why Robinson helicopters seem to have a bad habit of crashing"
Old 14th Mar 2019, 09:40
  #51 (permalink)  
Triple Nickel 8 Ball
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: In the fast lane...MOVE OVER!!
Posts: 54
Wow....I am loving this debate!!

Here's me. Just approaching my Skills Test in the UK, for issue of my EASA (YUK!!! Bloody bureaucrats...) PPL H. I will do the Commercial Add on to my FAA Plank Wing ATP at some point.

My issue is this......I learned in the Cabri. A GENIUS little helicopter that thinks its a Squirrel (or A Star if you prefer) / EC120 (only because of the Fenestron). It has an abundance of power, a massive RRPM band in Auto, modern systems, fully articulated rotor head (which is an amazing thing to behold....engineering excellence) and numerous other great qualities. Stick 100 litres in it, 2 grown men and go off on a hot day for some in field hover work without worrying too much. It's genuinely brilliant and must go some way to me being ready for the Skills Test in the bare minimum allowed time (including the max 6 hours under the min 45 for non pilots).

PROBLEM!! I will pass my skills test (despite the UK weather Examiner availability, helicopter availability and permanent standby Jet Jockey job trying to mess me up!) and will want to fly the most valuable thing in the Whole World....my family. Sure, my wonderful wife can come with me and we can drop into Pub's and restaurants for lunch and overnights, in the Cabri and it will be perfect for the job, not least because it has a decent baggage bay and 100kts Cruise when you wind it up (I'm not paying extra for extra fuel!)....BUT, if I want to fly my 2 kids as well and drop into a friends paddock....what can I rent to do it in, that doesnt cost even MORE ridiculous amounts of money per hour to rent? It HAS to be an R44....and THEREIN lies my issue. Theres no doubt that with my thousands of hours in fixed wings (from 2 seat pistons to 3 engine, multi crew jets of different sizes), that the Cabri forgives some of my slightly crap handling at times whereas, I'm not sure the R44 would and I'm not exactly ham fisted either, but I do find the whole mast bumping thing, a bit of a concern.

In the UK, the cost of a turbine like a 206 (YES, I know they have teetering heads too...but having been in one, more than once, with an ex RAF Test Pilot, who really could make it dance, I'm confident that I'd struggle to break the thing up) is at least 200 per HOUR more to hire and yet, are NOT that much more to operate and could even be less given the 12 year / 2200 overhaul...same applies to similar Eurocopter (I know this for fact....I've been in the aviation game in various roles for 20+years). Remember that we pay $3.75 (2.88) per USG for Jet A1 and $8.45 (6.50) per USG for AvGas (yes...really!!) in the UK as an average. So an R44 at 15 USG per hour is $126.75 (97.50) and a JetBanger is about $104.83 (80.64), based on 28 USG per hour...which is on the heavy side and usually a bit less in my limited experience. Even with notable parts in the turbine and hydraulic actuators and the dreaded TT straps etc, the cost is NOT ($260) 200 per flight hour more. Especially when you consider that an R44, flying its 2200 hours off entirely, costs $150 (115) per hour in fund/depreciation for rebuild, if you factor it in. Get through HALF of those hours and you are looking at double per hour. So, why is it SO expensive to fly a Turbine here? Insurance covers ham fisted people, cooking engines on start up (which are not THAT regular if the training was any good!) and in fact, given more power and better handling qualities in Auto etc (I mean, how GOOD is a 206 in AR....amazing). It's mental. I have almost no choice but to rent an R44....206 is too much....H500 is too much....Enstrom 480B isn't available/too rare and would be similar cost (and they have very few lifed parts) and group ownership appears to be a complete non starter!!

I'm actually worried that, until I can buy my own machine for a realistic cost (Alouette anyone?!!)....that I will be reluctant at best, to fly the R44 and surely, that isn't the right mindset to have before even getting in one. I'd be worried about every bump and unloading the disc. Of course, I would get to choose the days I fly....and can bin it on days that aren't entirely to my liking...

So, here is the crux of it. The Robbo debate is divided straight down the middle. Those that say they are fine and are brilliant and smell of roses and those that think that if you start at one on the ramp, the rotor will break the mast and disappear over the horizon. Which is it...who is right...are they safe enough for me....or are they most definitely not and should i fly a third less per year (surely not safe) and try to find a Turbine, within 200 miles of me, that I can hire?!
Triple Nickel 8 Ball is offline