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Conundrum ; What bird to own for PPL (H)

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Conundrum ; What bird to own for PPL (H)

Old 6th Sep 2023, 05:46
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Conundrum ; What bird to own for PPL (H)

Ok about myself; located in eastern part of Canada, retired, early 50’s, time on my hands and disposable income to spare. About to embark into fulfilling something I’ve dreamed about since my first flight into a 206 40 years ago, I’m getting my PPL (H) this winter.



Been looking at so many posts on so many forums, been talking to flight school and whoever wanted to share their own stories but still no clear answers ; What bird to acquire?!



How many hours will I log every year; who knows?! 20-50-100-500?!… I currently don’t have a f’n clue!?



I won’t be chartering😝, it’s for myself and the wife, kiddo and the 🐱, other than that is going to be to travel from the city to the cabin, occasional hunting and fishing trip, day trips or weekends. Possible that in 5 years time, leisure trips in northern Canada, cross country trips, NF, Labrador, Yukon, Alaska, stuff like that. A buddy of mine planned a trip across the USA all the way down to Brazil and back, that looks like fun!…



What I get as far as answers when I ask around and try to figure out about the available birds in Canada:



Robinsons; I just find them plain ugly, just a personal taste. The 2000 hour /numbers of remaining years scheme, every other one’s theory on calculation or definition of what’s economically sound, bla bla bla



I like MD500, but then you get the “…how will you service it?!… there is going to be a very few accredited service center, everyone is getting away from them, pax in the back are cramped Etc. Etc



I kinda still like the 206, but then I get the “…it’s old, parts are scares…” not comfortable with pax in the back, steam guages and and on and on…



I like the EC120B very much, then I get, “..it’s under powered…” weight and balance problem, tail authority problem, altitude etc…



AS350’s excellent workhorse, operating costs are high, maintenance is expensive, 3 blades is a hangar problem like the EC for thst matter



I can appreciate the 505’s but then get the “… I want 3 blade on my machine…”, it’s just a “face lifted” jet-ranger, you can have more value for less cash and on and on and on.



Then you have all of the flight schools that are pushing you to the R44 or the type of bird they have on the fleet allegedly to be your “best bet”.



And on the other topics I get the “low timer” insurance cost speech for turbine $$$, pushing me to the R44 as a “ better value “ “…do your hours in a 44 then after a few years upgrade…” speech.

If I need to fly 500-1000hrs on a 44 to be able to ” afford “ insurance on a turbine, that raises questions, the cost of entry is quite steep ?!.. why bother?!



I don’t think that I have decades ahead of me, I want to jump in now.



So I’m still confused.

What you guys think about it?! What bird to fly if you were in my shoes?!…
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Old 6th Sep 2023, 07:24
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It sound's like you're just an average private owner (except the part about wanting to fly it to Brazil), so just get a R44 and be done with it. Easy to fly, easy to maintain, easy to push into a hangar by yourself (with the EZ Wheels) etc etc etc. Everything else is a pain in the ass, too big, too much grease, too expensive, too slow etc etc. The Robinson is the best selling machine in the world for a reason.

From what you've told us, it will be almost perfect. If you find it doesn't match your needs, then you'll have a much better idea of which machine will, you can sell the R44 and you'll be no worse off.

Hurry up! Time is ticking and those fine motor skills are deteriorating!
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Old 6th Sep 2023, 07:49
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Hope this helps as i have owned and run most machine except a Robinson product

206 slow ( 100 knots ) wallows around in any wind, hard pushed to lift 5 people and a load of fuel as it is too heavy for the engine ( around 1900 lbs empty )
500 D or E ( 125 knots ) flies like a jet fighter hard pushed to get 5 in it but will lift everyone off the ground, due to its cruise speed cheaper to run than a 206, probably the most fun to fly. Sort after machines so expensive but you wont loose any money.
341 gazelle ( 125 knots )a french version of a 500 in terms of performance, seats 5 with a bag locker, i guess a problem maintaining across the pond
120 replaced the 341 but didnt have the performance of the 341 !!!!!
350 the best jack of all trades but can be eye wateringly expensive to maintain when the modules come up, pretty bomb proof, but overkill for what you want . You would need a B2 ( but a 12 year inspection around $ 175k to $ 200k)
Other consideration is keeping fuel at home, much easier to store Jet A 1 at home than Avgas ( in UK ) . If you cant have fuel at home dont bother with a machine. Most machines only have around 2.5 to 3 hours endurance, so if having to go to local airport to fill up that becomes a pain in the arse and increases costs.
All machines need to be hangered
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Old 6th Sep 2023, 08:02
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Airbus machines are nice to fly but a pain to operate unless you have a friendly source of parts. We used to send our gearboxes to Canada (from the UK) rather than France, or we would be on the ground most of the time. They may, of course, have got their act together since then. The Bell attitude to customers is far superior.

It may be old technology, but I have found that a well set up Longranger is an absolute pleasure to fly long term. As is the 407, of course.

The Gazelle and 500 are also fine ships, but on long journeys? It's like driving a sports car rather than a nice saloon. The gazelle is somewhere in the middle.

The average cost of a robbie per hour turns out to be very steep when all is said and done due to the stripdown, and there's nowhere to put any luggage, which is why the Cabri sells, it at least has a (very small) compartment for a suitcase.
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Old 6th Sep 2023, 08:14
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HX50............ Ok that was a joke.

R44. The best to do your license in and will probably get the job done for what you want to do after that. A year or 3 down the road, if you really love doing this and want something bigger/better, then you will probably have had the opportunity to fly in and evaluate other types.

If you don't do many hours per year, then it may be better to hire and fly once you have your license.

Good luck.
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Old 6th Sep 2023, 15:41
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Thank you guys for the replies,

Robinsons, I’ll need to really get over the looks of that thing because it’s an eye sore if you ask me.

Most MD on the market at this time at the N ones, very few E or D.

other that cost, what’s the point to get your ticket on a R44 instead of a turbine? From the outside I’d rather have those hours under my belt on a turbine instead of going piston then be fresh again and restart for an other ticket on a 2nd type? What is it I don’t get?
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Old 6th Sep 2023, 18:31
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Considering it sounds like your flights may be high-altitude, the R66 is definitely worth looking at, and a new one costs about the same as what any of the other options cost used. It also has a dedicated baggage compartment (in addition to under-seat storage) and you can get extended-range fuel tanks that occupy part of that baggage compartment if desired.
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Old 7th Sep 2023, 16:02
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@Hughes500 I’m guessing that you’rea but biased but the 500 always comes back to me… they seems to be real sweet machines!
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Old 8th Sep 2023, 02:59
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Go for a ride in the back seat of a 500 and see what you think afterwards.
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Old 8th Sep 2023, 03:41
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Originally Posted by Ascend Charlie
Go for a ride in the back seat of a 500 and see what you think afterwards.
coming from an AS350 back seat will feel cramped, but coming from an R44 the 500 will feel just fine.
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Old 8th Sep 2023, 03:59
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Originally Posted by Ascend Charlie
Go for a ride in the back seat of a 500 and see what you think afterwards.
Why would I do that?!… I’m flying the thing for me self not come along’s….

Or what I am missing here?…
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Old 8th Sep 2023, 04:35
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I'd just buy an R22 and move to a tropical island.

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Old 8th Sep 2023, 04:58
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Originally Posted by HoYeah
Why would I do that?!… I’m flying the thing for me self not come along’s….

Or what I am missing here?…
there is a point that as you ride at the back, you get to understand the experience at the back, the angle of view, the vibrations, the ease to talk to the front
let us face it: part of the fun, flying in front is "wow" the back passengers have an amazing experience.

I once took an important business friend at the back of the R44, I knew he had severe cronic back pain, he could not stand up for longer than 10 min in general because of that..
I could feel his knees on my pilot seat backrest as he repositioned himself during the whole flight, it was an amazing flight but he strugled to walk out of the aircraft, I know now it was a mistake.

Later I took fiends in the back of the AS350, and the leg space is great, you put your hand hag on the floor, a night and day expereince.


R44 - H500 - AS350


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Old 8th Sep 2023, 05:54
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Originally Posted by Agile
there is a point that as you ride at the back, you get to understand the experience at the back, the angle of view, the vibrations, the ease to talk to the front
let us face it: part of the fun, flying in front is "wow" the back passengers have an amazing experience.
I own 911’s and I’d never sit in the back, but do I enjoy driving them? Hell yeah! You want to come along and sit in the back, no problem 😜
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Old 8th Sep 2023, 06:42
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Lets be honest there is no perfect machine

1. Cheap and nasty Robinson
2. Goes like **** off a shovel MD 500
3. jack of all trades but expensive AS 350
4. Goes bloody well but difficult to maintain SA 341
5. Ugly but space Enstrom 480
6. Best spares support but expensive to buy B407
7. Pity about the engine B 505
8. pretty useless Ec 120
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Old 8th Sep 2023, 06:48
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You're flying it. Get the coolest thing which is obviously a 500. If the guys in the back don't like it they can walk.
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Old 8th Sep 2023, 20:11
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Have you thought about a 206L3 the long ranger very similar in cost to the jet ranger to run. Lots of room very nice to fly. Lots of power for what you are planning to do with it. A well looked after one is a really nice bit of gear.
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Old 8th Sep 2023, 20:47
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Originally Posted by Milo450
Have you thought about a 206L3 the long ranger very similar in cost to the jet ranger to run. Lots of room very nice to fly. Lots of power for what you are planning to do with it. A well looked after one is a really nice bit of gear.
Interesting, yes that could be something to consider any issues with parts availability ?
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Old 8th Sep 2023, 21:41
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If you have a 911 and only care about the front seats the obvious choice is a MD500. You will have the most fun flying it and its quick. Who cares if a couple times a year you have to fly it a bit further for maintenance. Helicopters cost money, but keep up on the maintenance and you will have an asset that's always worth that money when you sell in the future.

For best all round - I would take a serious look at a 206L3 (or L1 converted to L3). Great compromise of power, speed and economics. The airbus products kill you on the calendar items, both airframe and engine. This sucks as a private guy doing 50-300 hours a year.

The absolute best money you can spend when purchasing a helicopter is to have a very detailed pre-purchase inspection done. Get your PPH on a piston wherever, but come out to BC for a mountain flying course in a turbine. Chinook and Top flight are great mountain schools. These skills thought by very experienced instructors will keep you safer on your adventures.
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Old 8th Sep 2023, 22:22
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Originally Posted by HoYeah
time on my hands and disposable income to spare.
Disposable income relative to the aircraft and how you will have it supported in your area. From strictly a maintenance point what support system you will have can make an impact on your yearly budget. Same with insurance costs.

Another important question, do you plan to use your own helicopter for training and obtaining your tickets? In several instances had a private owner train in a school R44, get his certificate, build some time, then go out and buy a turbine.

Since you like the 206, still a decent support network around. And a solid aircraft. For an upgrade get a 407GXi or a used GX. Glass up front and go places. Not a fan of the 505 but then again the drivetrain is same as an L-4.

As to the Airbus models factory support has always been an issue. Can't help you the 500s and not current on their support abilities.

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