Robinson R44

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R44
Robinson-R44 1.jpg
Role Light utility and trainer helicopter
Manufacturer Robinson Helicopter Company
Designer Frank D. Robinson
First flight March 31, 1990
Introduction 1993
Status in production
Produced 5610 (2012)[1][not in citation given]
Unit cost
from US$425,000 (2011)
Developed from Robinson R22
Developed into Robinson R66

The Robinson R44 is a four-seat light helicopter produced by the Robinson Helicopter Company since 1992. Based on the company's two-place Robinson R22, the R44 features hydraulically assisted flight controls. The R44 was first flown on 31 March 1990, and received FAA certification in December 1992, with the first delivery in February 1993.

Design and development[edit]

The R44 is a single-engined helicopter with a semi-rigid two-bladed main rotor and a two-bladed tail rotor and a skid landing gear. It has an enclosed cabin with two rows of side-by-side seating for a pilot and three passengers. Tail rotor direction of rotation on the R44 is reversed compared to the R22 for improved yaw control authority. On the R44 the advancing blade is on the bottom.

Designed during the 1980s by Frank Robinson and his staff of engineers, the R44 first flew on March 31, 1990. The R44 Astro was awarded an FAA Type Certificate in December 1992, with the first deliveries taking place in January 1993. In January 2000, Robinson introduced the Raven with hydraulically assisted controls[2] and adjustable pedals. In July 2002, Robinson introduced the Raven II featuring a more powerful, fuel-injected engine and wider blades, allowing a higher gross weight and improved altitude performance.

Operators[edit]

An Arena Aviation R44 Raven II with a Cineflex V14 high definition camera system
R44 Raven at RIAT 2008
View from an R44 Astro at Cotswold Airport, England, showing part of the instrument panel (2009)
An R44 parked in a clear cut area near Manitoba, Canada

Civilian Operators[edit]

The aircraft is operated by many private individuals, companies and flying clubs.

In 1997, a Robinson R44 was piloted by Jennifer Murray for the first helicopter circumnavigation of the world by a woman, covering a distance of 36,000 miles in 97 days.[3][4] As of 2014, an R44 holds the piston speed record of 227 km/h.[5] Chilean president Sebastián Piñera owns one of these helicopters, and has made several public appearances flying it. Since 2002, Belgian Prince Philippe has flown a red R44 for personal leisure, with the unique registry code "OO-PFB", which stands for "Prins Filip België".[6] British singer Jay Kay also owns an R44 (registry code G-JKAY), which he pilots in the music video to the song White Knuckle Ride.

Police Operators[edit]

 Philippines
 South Africa
 Rwanda

Military operators[edit]

 Bolivia
 Dominican Republic
 Estonia
 Lebanon

Accidents and incidents[edit]

The R44 was found to be prone to post-accident fires due to the damage to aluminum auxiliary fuel tank, causing the fuel to leak out. In 2009, the company began installing bladder-type fuel tanks in all new R44 helicopters. It also issued Service Bulletin SB-78 on December 20, 2010, requiring R44 helicopters with all-aluminum fuel tanks to be retrofitted with bladder-type tanks to "improve the R44's fuel system's resistance to a post-accident fuel leak." The company recommended that the change should be done as soon as practical, but no later than December 31, 2013. The compliance date to April 30, 2014.[12]

An accident investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) in March 2013 found after analyzing historical data that a significantly higher proportion of R44 aircraft (12%) caught fire after crashing, compared to accidents involving other types of piston-engine helicopters (7%).[13] Preliminary analysis by the ATSB of the NTSB's accident database found a similar statistic, with 15% of accidents in the US involving R44 helicopters having post-crash fires.[13]

Heli Air Robinson R44 Raven II arrives for the 2014 Royal International Air Tattoo, England

Although the data did not consider which type of fuel tanks were fitted, the report mentioned four fatal accidents to the R44 fitted with bladder-type tanks, but as far as they knew, did not involve a post-accident fire. The ATSB recommended that the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) take further action to urge R44 owners to fit bladder-type tanks.[14] The FAA, the governing body in the country of manufacture whose directives would normally be followed in other countries like Australia, had not mandated the retrofit; CASA therefore issued Australian-specific airworthiness directive AD/R44/23, grounding R44 aircraft on 30 April 2013 that had not yet been upgraded.[15]

Specifications (R44 Raven II)[edit]

Data from Robinson R44 Raven II Pilot's Operating Handbook and FAA approved rotorcraft flight manual, dated June 13, 2005.

General characteristics

  • Crew: one or two pilots
  • Capacity: four, including pilot
  • Payload: 748 lb (340 kg)
  • Length: 459" (11,65 m)
  • Rotor diameter: 33 ft (10.1 m)
  • Tail rotor diameter: 4 ft 10 in (1.5 m)
  • Height: 10 ft 9 in (3.3 m)
  • Empty weight: 1,450 lb (657.7 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 2,500 lb (1,134 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Lycoming IO-540-AE1A5 6 cylinder, flat engine with fuel injection, 245 bhp (183 kW)
  • Fuel: 100 low lead (100LL) fuel or 100/130.
  • Main tank capacity: 31.6 US gallons (120 liters)
  • Main tank usable fuel: 30.6 US gallons (116 liters)
  • Auxiliary tank capacity: 18.5 US gallons (70 liters)
  • Auxiliary tank usable fuel: 18.3 US gallons (69 liters)

Performance

See also[edit]

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Footnotes[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]