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Rotorway Corner


Old 17th Jul 2002, 09:38
  #81 (permalink)  
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The actual content was quite interesting, although the reporting style stinks. The mass of repeated introductions and garbage adverts made what could have been a good programme a real chore to sit through. Let's hope it comes on the BBC one day.
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Old 17th Jul 2002, 09:51
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I haven't got Sky, so a video would be most welcome if anyone can manage it. Pleeeeeese!!!
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Old 17th Jul 2002, 11:03
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I found the program really interesting from a mechanical point of view - e.g. are the springs in a sprag-clutch really that small

Not only did the program show the guy assembling the bits, it also had tours of the factory showing their CNC tooling etc. Quite reassuring to see the quality of the work being done, but still not sure I'd fly in one (especially if I built it).

Anyway, the program has a website if you're interested here .

A picture of the guy and his work from the website...

Last edited by RotorHorn; 17th Jul 2002 at 11:42.
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Old 17th Jul 2002, 13:25
  #84 (permalink)  
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Video for Whirley


I've recorded the first batch of episodes (1-4). I'll be at Heliflight next week at some point so i'll drop you an e-mail and let you know when, then you can pick it up at your leisure.


Right Then,

I watched the first four episodes of 'A Chopper is Born' last night and although I haven't had time to sit down and contemplate the content of what I saw I have the following comments to make on the helicopter.

It seems foolhardy to me for the manufacturer to allow an inexperienced builder to be cutting his or her own belts [primary drive & clutch!] It seems like a sure way to build a flaw into the primary drive system. (Oh, itís only a nick, it'll be alright.) Furthermore, I think the statement: 'It's to ensure they are equal length' is an absolute nonsense, considering how they are made there is no reason why moulding them together would ensure they are equal lengths! IMHO the real reason is cost and transferring liability.

Triplex chain
Why they have used a triplex chain in the primary drive train is absolutely beyond me. If one pin breaks [as Mark stated] 'the whole thing drops to pieces'. Nice. Why not three simplex chains, engineering in some redundancy. Once again I would venture cost as the reason. Possibly weight also.

Casting in the Rotor control system
[The main rotor tension element was not cast]
I find the thought of cast swash-plate elements and main rotor control assembly somewhat disturbing also. Sand casting is a process that is inherently difficult to control and works to relatively poor tolerances. While the swash plates do not have to tolerate large loads, the loads they do experience are oscillatory, and hence fatigue is a serious concern for these components. So them why then are these components cast, a process subject to poor tolerances, large material quality variations, inclusions, porosity, and generally a poor crystalline structure unless additional heat treatment is carried out subsequently. Hence, it is my guess that also such components have had to be dramatically over-engineered in order to ensure safety - hence the comments from Mark on how heavy the system was and the known useful load limitations of the EXEC.

Cable attachment T-pieces
I am unconvinced that the T-pieces used to tie the two control cables to the lower swash-plate are particularly well designed. If one cable were to snap then I feel that the second cable would become slack as the other half of the tee was now unrestrained, this would then slacken all of the remaining cables as the swash plate rotates to equalise cable tension and there would be a great deal of play in the control system. Possibly so much that the machine becomes un-flyable?

* This is based on what I could see on the program, which was very limited. If anyone knows better then I stand to be corrected.

Cables for primary controls
The cabling installation was very neat on the EXEC thanks to the sleeves used to support cable tension. However, the cable arrived shrink-wrapped, and so we could assume they will never come out of those sleeves. How do you inspect them - how do you know that they are no fraying?

T-rotor pitch change System
From what was shown on the program the entire tail rotor centrifugal loads on are supported by a single circular shaft clip. This seems like madness to me! If that clip fails, the tail rotor departs!

Drilling of main frame & Boom
One of the first things that were shown on the program was Mark mis-drilling a hole in the main frame. But worst than that he gets it so hot the drill was glowing! By his own admission this seriously compromises any heat treatment carried out locally and left the local steel work very hard. More importantly - very brittle and highly susceptible to fatigue. The answer - I bit of uncontrolled DIY heat treatment! I threw my hands up in the air! [This of course may be controlled or a procedure provided - it didn't give that impression on the program though.]

Furthermore, some of the section that were drilled clearly gave little or no access to the inside of the tube/section for deblurring, this provides a mechanism for crack initiation/propagation. They are building in flaws. [Seemingly, based on the program again]

As has been mentioned before on PPRuNe, the Rotorway is rather under powered, this is for two reasons, firstly it is a rather poor rotor system (aerodynamically) so that 150HP is non being used very well. [Or should I say the rotor system is optimised for low production cost and ease of repair!]

Secondly because of the apparent choice of processes in the manufacture of the components, then large safety factors will have been applied to ensure safety and hence large weight penalties incurred. Note, did you see the size of the pedal castings and the cyclic and collective clevices!

Simple nuts and Self locking nuts
I also felt that assembling with plain nuts and then reassembling with self lockers offers the opportunity for the builder to use the wrong nuts in the assembly and hence have the thing shake to pieces in mid-air. Also I only saw one means of lock the mechanical fasteners. Hmmm


Thatís all rather negative, what about the good side of the machine......

It looks rather nice - better than a R22 it has to be said.

Its dirt Cheap [for a helicopter]

Itís well equipped for the price - everything you need for VMC flight except radio & transponder.

Skids are bolted to the frame so if you bend them you can replace them and not the whole airframe!

Supposedly fly's nicer than a R22

Wire locking - Important nuts in the chain wheel were retained by wire-lock to protect against ingestion into the chain following a shear-failure. Good.



The general configuration of the machine seems quite neat also, and it has a very trendy instrument console layout.

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Old 17th Jul 2002, 13:27
  #85 (permalink)  
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Next Episodes

Are on next week starting at 9pm - Home and Leisure (SKY)

23rd July

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Old 17th Jul 2002, 14:28
  #86 (permalink)  

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Many many thanks Cran; I can pick it up at Heliflight if you let me know when.
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Old 17th Jul 2002, 20:22
  #87 (permalink)  
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It never ceases to amaze me of the attitude of the armchair critic. Maybe you should look at things in context.

This is a programme aimed at an audience the majority of which will only have a passing interest in aviation. The fact that this and the previous series shows that lots of us involved are not a bunch of handlebar wearing upper class twits can only be a good thing.

I'm sure if it was made purely for the aviation enthusiast / officionado then the rest of the world wouldn't watch and GA wouldn't be getting decent publicity.

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Old 18th Jul 2002, 05:44
  #88 (permalink)  
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Great stuff CRAN, very interesting to read your thoughts. Thanks.

I looked at the guys website ..hmmm... seems a little confused about some military helicopter history, claims that M*A*S*H was about the Vietnam War
Im not sure what he means by the following:
Boeing's Chinook helicopters were the first on the scene in Vietnam.
I didnt pay much attention after reading this...

I wonder if the "Discovery Channel" use their own resources for research.

Last edited by zhishengji751; 18th Jul 2002 at 05:54.
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Old 6th Sep 2002, 13:48
  #89 (permalink)  
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The Rotorway Exec 162F

First of all I hope Im in the right forum, but I'm after some advice from somebody who has some experience on this kit built helicopter.


I have a frozen ATPL (A) doing some freelance corporate work and instructing. My boss at my proper job (The billpaying one) is totally fascinated by all things jetranger. Having watched the program "A chopper is born" on discovery - im now getting bombarded with questions about this particular machine and would it be suitable for a low time PPL (H) which neither he nor I have at this present time.

He does have a wodge burning a hole in his pocket, we have sterile facility's in which to build the thing and a very large meadow to the rear complete with friendly farmer.

I know previous versions of this helicopter had an alledged widow maker reputation. is this still the case? In terms of technology it seems very advanced compared to my cherokee.

Im just looking for a bit of professional advice on whether the blurb on the website is accurate and its the perfect 2seat sport helicopter (probably not) or a complete pig that you wouldn't be in the same hangar with. Any comments inbetween these two views would also be very helpful.

The intended use of the thing is a bit of pleasure flying combined with the odd x country and in time the odd short range business trip.

Im a rotor heads virgin so be gentle and sorry to intrude if this isn't relevant to this forum also Mr moderator please move this at will if need be
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Old 6th Sep 2002, 15:48
  #90 (permalink)  
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Welcome to Rotorheads! We won't hold the ATPL (A) against you too much

Let's start this off ...

A kit heli is only as good as:

The manufacturer who designed it. the people who made the parts, and the builder who assembled it.

I'm sure there are some great Exec's out there flying.

The downside is that most kits have fatigue issues that eventually crop up.

Maintainability of the heli for these types of issue are what will challenge you.

Would this heli be suitable for a low time PVT? That depends upon the pilot and the training to properly respond in an emergancy.

I believe you would be better off training on and purchasing the same type production heli.

Last edited by RW-1; 6th Sep 2002 at 15:57.
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Old 6th Sep 2002, 16:22
  #91 (permalink)  
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G-SPOT, you say your boss is 'totally fascinated by all things jetranger'. There's a big difference between a home built baby helicopter and a B206. You also say that your boss has a wodge burning a hole in his pocket. Well, in the world of helicopters he's found the right place to lighten his load. Also on balance I think most would say that if his wodge is truly sizeable then go buy a jetranger and leave the kit in is box.
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Old 6th Sep 2002, 18:02
  #92 (permalink)  
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I would suggest you go into business with your boss....then buy all the "valued partner" insurance you can afford.....encourage him to buy, build, and fly the kit helicopter. Take no active part in the construction, maintenance, or instruction.....retain a very good financial planner and wait to receive the settlement from the insurance company after he becomes one with the kit and pasture. It would sure beat the stock market and casino for a good bet!

Steer him to a good helicopter school....and advise him to rent/lease/charter a more professionally designed, built , and maintained aircraft.....and forego the early fortune if he is somewhat a friend.
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Old 6th Sep 2002, 18:10
  #93 (permalink)  
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I hear what you are saying, I'm also fascinated by everything Boeing 747 400, it doesn't mean I can necessarily afford one.

The choice is down to two things

Either build the thing and then fly it - great satisfaction factor as long as the thing stays in one piece


Not bother at all - as going out and buying a high time R22 isn't really going to float his boat (nothing against R22's)

I'd love to say get your hand in your pocket and buy a 206 but there really isn't that kind of budget available. What info Im after is whether a fresh PPL would struggle flying the thing having say trained on a R22.

Are they nice to "Handle", I know what im trying to ask, comparing a Seneca to a Duchess for example.... just dont know how to "chopperise" the question

Anybody own one?
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Old 6th Sep 2002, 19:49
  #94 (permalink)  
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of all the available kit helicopters, I think the 162F is the most professional one. A lot depends on who put's it together. I personally wouln't fly it, but that's another story.
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Old 6th Sep 2002, 19:54
  #95 (permalink)  

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There was a very long thread on the Rotorway Exec some time ago on here, with lots of detail. If you do a search you might be able to find it. There was someone on Rotorheads at that time who owned one, but I don't know if he's still around.

Anyway, I'll tell you what very little I know or have heard. I vaguely know two guys (twins) who've got one, and despite the fact they're both engineers, they said it took far longer to build than they expected, and they wouldn't do it again. They also said a lot of maintenance time was required, but I think that may apply to all helicopters, though I think the chap on Rotorheads said the same thing. I was STRONGLY advised against getting one on safety grounds by someone who was familiar with them in the US, where they seem to have a lot of accidents. As to how hard they are to fly, I don't think they have a governor, which isn't that big a deal, but certainly would take a bit of getting used to if you'd trained on an R22.

The TV programme did indeed make it look wonderful, and very easy to build and fly. The trouble is, no-one else seems to agree. Shame, as it's a very pretty helicopter, and almost affordable.
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Old 7th Sep 2002, 01:08
  #96 (permalink)  
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Cheers whirly Ill do that

In fact Ive found load's of stuff on it now thanks, should have done so in the first place!

Last edited by G-SPOTs Lost; 7th Sep 2002 at 08:16.
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Old 7th Sep 2002, 14:42
  #97 (permalink)  
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i have flown quite a few rotorway's. i might tell you why one day.

if you are serious about getting a machine do youself a favour and don't go near a rotorway or any other kit built helicopter.

it is not woth the risk.
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Old 7th Sep 2002, 23:22
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OK, so 99% of my time is on R22's and I openly admit to know very little about the technical side of helicopters, but what is it that is so bad about the 162? Even before I stuck my beak in here I heard nothing good about it..... why??

Enlighten me, O 4 stripey ones...
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Old 8th Sep 2002, 03:51
  #99 (permalink)  
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Hi guys,

in front of our hangar. a guy is "playing" around with some Rotorway - an old model - it was not even called a "Rotorway 90", yet.
In the meantime they have full FADEC and you also can get an altitude-compensating compressor on it.
It seems they are pretty good machines now, extremely stable (is there such a thing with helicopters...?), which for me translates into very boring (if you have a couple thousand hrs in a R-44 and then change into JetRanger, you know what I mean....).
Personally I do not like the belt drive to the T/R (I donīt know about the latest model, but some previous one had a 5 hr inspection cycle for the T/R belt tension - better bring all necessary gear for a longer trip!!)


IF you are not into building and tinkering with the machine - speak flying is secondary - KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF ANY KIT - AIRPLANE OR HELICOPTER!!!

I had a guy ask my opinion on the same machine to get to fly "cheap" with a heli.........

Do the math:
How much is the kit, versus how much is a private licence AND how long can you rent say a R-22 for the rest? Will you really fly that much to bother with insurance (if you can find one...), a place to keep the machine, etc. - and you still have to built it yet, do you have a place for the building part of the game, any tools yet?

If it seems to expensive in your corner of the world to get a private licence, give me a call, plan on a terrific vacation in Central-America, get your licence and fly your heart out in fantastic scenery (miles of beach, rainforest, rivers, etc...)!!!! No, you are not dreaming- check it out:


send me an e-mail:

[email protected]

Again: if your heart is not with the mechanical challenge to built and maintain a helicopter, DONīT DO IT!!! IT IS NOT A CHEAP WAY TO GET TO FLY A HELICOPTER!!

If there are plenty of accidents, then it is most likely because of insufficient training and bad maintenance......

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Old 8th Sep 2002, 09:38
  #100 (permalink)  
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2 bob

I remember quite a few years ago a commercial helicopter pilot actually building more than one of these things. He was an experienced and current pilot at that time maybe 9000 odd hours and flew a Lama daily on agrcultural work. I remember he was advised by the factory not to attempt to fly it on completion without training which he went and did. His comment was that without the training he probably would have tipped it on its side in the hover.

Another regrettable case more recently was a guy here locally had a Mini 500. He was a world champion RC helicopter guy. The Mini 500 for him was a natural progression I suppose. The aircraft was pristine and the attention to detail unbelievable. This is Switzerland and the guy was an engineer. I spoke to him and asked him if he was aware of certain problems that had been experienced around the world. He was aware of a few. He flew the aircraft very conservatively as I had seen him flying many times. About a month after this conversation the thing threw a blade! Needless to say the result.

The local homebuilt scene here is a bit down at the moment. A BD5-J had an engine major about 3 weeks ago and the pilot did not survive.
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