Go Back  PPRuNe Forums > Aircrew Forums > Rotorheads
Reload this Page >

FAA Commercial Rotorcraft Add - on / R44 Safety

Rotorheads A haven for helicopter professionals to discuss the things that affect them

FAA Commercial Rotorcraft Add - on / R44 Safety

Old 24th Jun 2019, 02:22
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Earth
Posts: 97
FAA Commercial Rotorcraft Add - on / R44 Safety

Hello,

I am writing to inquire about recreational helicopter flying in the US. I am a 10,000 hour professional fixed wing pilot (which I realize means nothing in regard to rotorcraft) with a steady airline job that pays well enough. I recently took a "discovery flight" in an R44 and was intrigued by the fun and challenge of flying it. I feel as if I took to it fairly well, able to hover in ground effect with fair stability on the first few tries. I'm sure the instructor was stroking my ego to increase the likelihood of repeat business though. We're in the 44 being as that I weight 95 kilos at about 185 cm (yes I do need to diet) and my instructor is probably close to 85 kg himself.

To get on with it, my questions how intrinsically dangerous is flying the R44? I have been reading a fair bit on mast bumping, mast rocking/chugging, and post impact fires (which I realize have been mitigated to a degree with the fuel tank modifications). We conducted the SFAR 73 robinson mast bump avoidance training before the discovery flight. I live in a mountainous far northwestern region of the USA which is prone to wind, turbulence, and snow.

If I were to earn my rating and fly recreationally, the rental agreement is quite stringent, requiring quarterly recurrent checkouts with an instructor and prohibiting off airport (heliport?) landings. I imagine myself flying for sightseeing on good weather days only.

Lastly, despite my limited ambitions, I think it is best that I pursue the commercial add-on to my fixed wing ATP, because the training hours are no more than 10% extra compared to the private, iirc (you are simply held to tighter tolerances on the checkride maneuvers). Do voices of experience concur?

Thank you.
RandomPerson8008 is offline  
Old 24th Jun 2019, 04:16
  #2 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
Location: California
Posts: 160
Well, I've been recreationally renting the R22 for a decade and a half and I haven't had any safety issues with the aircraft. That might not help you much, but they do say the 44 is just a big 22.

As for the wind and turbulence low-g mast bumping thing, well, just slow down to a level attitude and you should be fine.

One of the best parts about recreational flying is, if you don't like the conditions, you just put your wallet back in your pocket and fly another day

By the way, assuming google converter is correct 95 kg is about 209 lbs and 85 kg is 187 lbs, so the total of 396 lbs should be just fine if you want to train in an R22, which can generally hold about 400 lbs before going over the forward cg line. Then if you want to rent a 22, as long as your below 240lbs, you can solo in it,...if you don't want to spend the exrra moola on the 44?
Robbiee is offline  
Old 24th Jun 2019, 05:56
  #3 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Earth
Posts: 97
Thank you, I will look into the 22 maybe if I lose a few pounds.....210 lbs in the buff first thing in the morning might be more like 215 with shoes, clothes, headset, and a hearty breakfast in me. It was too close for the flight school to want me to be flying the R22 with their instructor. In the meantime I will carry on the with the 44, I reckon. I would like to fly both.
RandomPerson8008 is offline  
Old 24th Jun 2019, 06:49
  #4 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: UK
Age: 41
Posts: 42
I don't think there's anything intrinsically dangerous about the R44. Compared to the R22 it's faster, more powerful and has way more blade inertia so it glides very nicely - it really shouldn't be tarred with the same brush to be honest. Mast bumping can happen in any teetering head helicopter, Bells for example but as long as you fly it conservatively it shouldn't be an issue. Weather, that'll kill you.
rudestuff is online now  
Old 24th Jun 2019, 09:57
  #5 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Brantisvogan
Posts: 485
Originally Posted by rudestuff View Post
Mast bumping can happen in any teetering head helicopter, Bells for example
And yet it just doesn't happen.
Bell_ringer is offline  
Old 24th Jun 2019, 11:24
  #6 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: UK
Age: 41
Posts: 42
Originally Posted by Bell_ringer View Post
And yet it just doesn't happen.
And yet it did to G-RAMY
rudestuff is online now  
Old 24th Jun 2019, 11:41
  #7 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2019
Location: Switzerland
Posts: 26
Originally Posted by Bell_ringer View Post
And yet it just doesn't happen.
Hmmmm. https://www.gov.uk/aaib-reports/aaib...nger-ii-g-ramy
ApolloHeli is offline  
Old 24th Jun 2019, 12:31
  #8 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 349
Originally Posted by RandomPerson8008 View Post
I am writing to inquire about recreational helicopter flying in the US. I am a 10,000 hour professional fixed wing pilot (which I realize means nothing in regard to rotorcraft) with a steady airline job that pays well enough. I recently took a "discovery flight" in an R44 and was intrigued by the fun and challenge of flying it. I feel as if I took to it fairly well, able to hover in ground effect with fair stability on the first few tries.
If you hovered that well on your first try then my hat is off to you! You are a savant! Not many people can do that. Seriously!

To get on with it, my questions how intrinsically dangerous is flying the R44?
Congratulations, you have now started a sh*tstorm that will go on for ages and pages This is PPRuNe Rotorhead's oldest, longest and most emotional topic.

Let me see if I can bottom-line it for you:

1. The Robinson designs have, undeniably, had a checkered past. This has left a bad taste in the mouths of many old-timer's on this forum. The improvements in design, training, maintenance and regulatory aspects (in the US, anyway, i.e. SFAR73) have effectively fixed most of the problems. This will not stop the old-timers from complaining that they are death traps.

2. PPRuNe is an international community. Not all countries have a good track record for maintenance, training and operations. Brazil and New Zealand are, in particular, hot spots for Robinson helicopter crashes and fatalities. You will hear from people only familiar with those environments, loudly, in a negative way.

3. By contrast, in the US Robinson operations don't seem to destroy any more aircraft or lives than Bell operations. This is based on a comparison of fleet sizes and just counting up the crashes. Nobody has come up with any credible fleet hour data. Nevertheless it seems comparable, and in spite of the fact that Robinsons helicopters are piloted by the folks with the least experience.

4. Robinson helicopters are lightweight, low rotor inertial, two-bladed teetering rotorhead machines. You cannot change the laws of physics. By definition they will have less safety margin for a given set of weather conditions compared to heavier, higher inertia machines with more blades. But this is no different than getting in a Champ vs. a Centurion, etc.

5. A large number of PPRuNe pilots are retired military. They have never flown a piston machine in their lives, don't ever want to, think anyone who does is crazy, and even crazier if the piston machine is a Robinson. Again, the fixed wing version of this is "Why the hell would you ever fly anything less than a Citation?", etc., etc.

6. There is no helicopter more affordable to fly than a Robinson, if you are paying for it yourself. Some wag will undoubtedly chime in with "Well, how much is your life worth?", but that is not my point and you all know it!

My opinion: maintain it right, train it right, fly it right, and you'll be all right! In a US environment this seems to be not only possible, but an everyday occurrence, and no different than flying a Bell (noting that my personal limits for wind are south of "gust 30".) The R44 is a very capable machine and you can get some real work and a great deal of personal enjoyment out of it. The attraction is undeniable, and is no different than 747 pilots who buy Champs and Cubs and whatnot to fly for the pure enjoyment of flying.

If I were to earn my rating and fly recreationally, the rental agreement is quite stringent, requiring quarterly recurrent checkouts with an instructor and prohibiting off airport (heliport?) landings. I imagine myself flying for sightseeing on good weather days only.

Lastly, despite my limited ambitions, I think it is best that I pursue the commercial add-on to my fixed wing ATP, because the training hours are no more than 10% extra compared to the private, iirc (you are simply held to tighter tolerances on the checkride maneuvers). Do voices of experience concur?
I am by no means as experienced an aviator as you are. But while I was completely comfortable with my PPSEL, my PPH felt like a license to get killed. I pursued my CPH and am so very happy I did. Plus now I get to fly for both fun and <tiny, tiny, tiny> profit

Another good reason to pursue the CPH is to improve your status with the rental operation and get some of those rental restrictions removed. There is absolutely no point to flying small helicopters when all you do is fly from paved runway to paved runway. If that doesn't seem possible find another school. And if the school is not serious about teaching in a real-world commercial environment, i.e. all your confined landings are in some easy-peasy farmer's field off the end of the runway, find another school.
aa777888 is offline  
Old 24th Jun 2019, 12:35
  #9 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Brantisvogan
Posts: 485
Originally Posted by ApolloHeli View Post
ok you got me. It happened twice.
Bell_ringer is offline  
Old 24th Jun 2019, 16:51
  #10 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Earth
Posts: 97
Originally Posted by aa777888 View Post

Another good reason to pursue the CPH is to improve your status with the rental operation and get some of those rental restrictions removed. There is absolutely no point to flying small helicopters when all you do is fly from paved runway to paved runway. If that doesn't seem possible find another school. And if the school is not serious about teaching in a real-world commercial environment, i.e. all your confined landings are in some easy-peasy farmer's field off the end of the runway, find another school.
Thank you. I think you can land anywhere within reason with an instructor on board. On the first flight we landed on a very small island in a mountain stream a few thousand feet in elevation above the departure airport. Off-airport landings say they require prior approval by the director of operations in their rental agreement. I get the impression that it is a tour/charter operator first and a flight school/rental agency distant second.
RandomPerson8008 is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us Archive Advertising Cookie Policy Privacy Statement Terms of Service

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.