Sir - Much adverse material has been published recently about the Robinson R22 helicopter.
In defence of the aircraft, may I point out that the company of which I am chief flying instructor has been operating R22s for training and commercial work for the past ten years and has logged over 10,000h on the aircraft. I have over 4,000h on it.
During that time we have "lost" three R22s. One was from a wirestrike; one from overpitching at high drift angle (DA); and the third was inconclusive, but the accident investigator did deduce that there was nothing mechanically wrong with the aircraft.
All the accidents occurred on private operations. We have not had any training incidents of note. I personally have experienced absolutely no problems with the R22 and we frequently operate it in fairly rough weather and rugged country.
From this, I draw these conclusions:
- the R22 is an excellent training helicopter and eminently suitable for some types of commercial work;
- at high DA its power margins are small, so running take-offs, zero-speed landings, etc will often be needed;
- there is, almost invariably, a pilot-error element to accidents;
- private operations need to be closely monitored and controlled;
- wires should be marked;
- the R22 design, flight characteristics, mechanical integrity and performance are excellent.
Orewa, New Zealand
Source: Flight International