View Full Version : Robin HR200

28th Aug 2006, 14:06
Hi, Im flight instructor, we are currently using VLAs for PPL training, but we are getting rid of Rotax engines! We want a strong airplane, with Lycoming or Continental.

Has anyone flown the Robin HR200 (nowadays called Alpha 120t or the Apha 160? is it a good training plane? the 118 hp is enough engine? (we have to operate from an airport al 2000` and sometimes with 40C) Any suggestions?

28th Aug 2006, 14:28
I have flown the HR200 a few times, and I really like it. The visibility is superb, its controls are sensitive and it feels more 'fun' to fly than the C152 I usually train in. There are quite a few here in France (far outnumbering 152s- typically mercantalist), and the instructors seem to like them. Judging from their popularity as a trainer, I imagine that they can cope with fairly heavy landings too.

On the downside, being a tall fellow of 194cm (in the spirit of the HR200's metric ASI), the seats give me a sore back after half an hour, so I'm sticking with the 152.

Forgive me for my lack of technical knowledge and advice- as a student pilot, I know I'm not really qualified to judge one type over another.

28th Aug 2006, 16:02
Thank you!. I apreciate very much your opinion, its very important the point of view of the student.
Just a simple question, can you tell me the elevation of the airfield you fly from and how did the Robin climb? Ive reading the performance of the airplane and it seems to be the most weak data.

28th Aug 2006, 16:24
You're welcome!

I fly from St Cyr l'Ecole, elevation 350ft, and the climb seems fine to me. I couldn't really tell it apart from the C152 in that respect, though that may have been because I was so excited about the superior view (you can see right down the lake to Versailles on the crosswing leg of runway 12).

28th Aug 2006, 23:32
I instructed on the HR200 for over a year and loved every bit of it. Its a great plane in terms of handling and visibility. Very nimble and harmonised controls. Shame its not aerobatic. Not bad in crosswinds either (18kt demonstrated limit if I remember correctly).
As far as performance is concerned its not much different to the Cessna 152 in terms of climb rate and cruise speed. It does have a slightly higher take off and landing speed though due to the short, stubby wings and therefore tends to need a bit more runway. Not the best choice for short rough fields (specially with spats on) and 20 degrees of flap seems more like a token gesture than anything else. Having said that, its simplicity made it a great training aircraft.
There are a few downsides that I've come across:
Corrosion may be a bit of a problem after about 5000 hours, order delays for parts (I think the main production line's moved to Australia) and a tendancy to be a bit unstable directionally on the ground (semi castoring nosewheel).
Overall though, it is a very popular aircraft amongst students and instructors. Definitely my favourite 2 seater. Heaps of fun!:ok:

28th Aug 2006, 23:44
Been Instructing on them for the past 5 years.
Nice aeroplane and a good trainer at sea level and 15 deg c, however on hot days (+30c sea level )its short of power / performance at max auw and I operate on half tanks. Also different A/C seem to have noticeable performance differences.
The Lycoming 0235 as fitted by the French had a problem where a cylinder head separated from the block (see Uk AIB reports ) and I have seen it happen to UK based A/C. Additionally they seem to be very prone to starting problems and we continually have problems where the a/c fails to start when hot!!!!
Spares are now very hard to come by in the Uk and our aircraft are looking very tatty.
Its a pity re the problems as its great improvement on the C152
Cheers Orions***

29th Aug 2006, 07:58
I instructed on the Robin 200 for a year during which time 2 out of 3 purchased aircraft crashed due to engine failures. One (a fatal) was traced to a manufacturing issue, the other (a write off but no serious injuries) was never fully resolved. We then got rid of the third.....

That said - positives - looks good on the ramp, students liked it as it seems "modern" compared to the cessnas well it did in the 1990s. Visibity is great. 'carefree" handling though no spinning :-(

Negatives - Almost viceless stalling, why is this a negative you may say - well I tended to find it was hard to teach the dangers of stalling in an aircraft where you could fully develop the stall then turn through 360 degrees in each direction using aileron only.
As was said before spares in the UK were hard to come by. The flaps are vulnerable to clumsy students (and hung over instructors) kicking them into assymentry on the way out of the aircraft. We never fully solved the issue of dipping the fuel tank ( box tank behind the seats)
Spats encourage corrosion of the brakes (had one off the side of the runway with that)
Oh I see they STILL havent sorted the hot starting problems.

29th Aug 2006, 08:57
Currently instructing on HR200 amongst others. Agree with most of what's said above, though I'm less complimentary on the characteristics for training.

Flaps are next to useless - 20 degrees max, very little trim change or att change to show to the student
Trim is very powerful and highly geared (say compared with a PA28), which robs it of some subtlety and means students take longer to develop good trimming abilities.
You can't see warning lights in bright sunshine

On the upside, vis is great, seats are comfortable, cockpit is organised. It's true about the spares - Robin sold the design rights to Alpha Aviation in NZ. My understanding is that they are currently still obtaining various certifications and that is why some parts are taking a long time. We have had an aileron on order for 18 months!

On the subject of hot starts - 0-2 primes and it should start without issue. If not, talk to the engineers. I had a consistent prob hot starting one of our HR200s last week and noticed the engine turning over faster than normal. Reported it to the eng - problem turned out to be v poor compressions on 3/4 cylinders and a partial fatigue failure on one piston skirt, which is prob the subject of an MOR now...:eek:

Tuned In
29th Aug 2006, 11:55
The nosewheel of ours did not castor at all - it just had a very sharp turn. Makes it easy to make tight turns, but easy to overcontrol and feel unstable. Slightack pressure on the take-off and landing rolls solves the main issue.

The aircraft has a high approach speed and little flap, but will actually land in a short space. I had a student land it in 300m on wet grass on his first landing away from a large piece of tarmac, and could personally land in about 200-250m on tarmac. It is not suitable for rough fields with the spats, though. I also always got better performance T/O, climb and cruise speed than I did from a 152.

I disagree with Daysleeper - the stalling is far from viceless! At certain fuel loadings it drops the right wing really nicely in the power-on stall. Very good demonstration! Hot starts we never found a serious issue - just a slight nuissance.

Only consistent maintenance issue we had was electrical - kept blowing the strobe, replacement bulbs hard to get.

1st Sep 2006, 07:27
First Alpha 2160 has come of the production line in New Zealand.

Would think the 2160 would be best for 2000' and 40C. The 2120 is ok up to elevations of 1500' and 20C at AUW but would struggle higher and hotter.

The aeroclub I used to work at in New Zealand bought several 2-3 years ago and all had/have corrosion issues- Alpha Aviation are working on a remedy for this. I believe the new build Alpha's will be finished to a better standard.

1st Sep 2006, 10:37
I agree with all of the above, Currently Instructing on HR200 (p/t) as well as PA28 and C152 I add the following.
I find teaching slow flight or reduced cruise speed much more difficult in the HR200 than in the 152. The robin at about 75knots will easily slip on to the wrong side of the drag curve when you dont want it to.

Our robins have a very stable stall with a little longitudinal rocking/pitching. As said before not good for illustrating the true dangers of the stall that can occur in other aircraft.

If you are teaching all day in the robin when it is hot and sunny, with its lovely bubble canopy a hat and sun glasses are a must, otherwise you may not be feeling upto scatch for that end of day beer.


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