Kate Sarsfield/LONDON

Robinson has designed a customised hydraulic flight control system for its R44 four-seat light helicopter, in response to customer demand. "We have completed all the design work and we hope to have it installed on a machine and flying by early September," says Robinson customer support manager Kurt Robinson.

The Torrance, California-based manufacturer, which also builds the two-seat R22, first considered installing hydraulics on the piston-powered R44 in the late 1980s when the aircraft was being developed, but the idea was "-put on the back burner" in 1994 while the company concentrated on certificating the helicopter.

Robinson's decision to proceed with the system four years later is due, it says, to the availability of more licensed engineers, and calls from its customers for a more responsive machine.

According to Robinson, the system is designed to enhance the pilot's comfort by reducing vibration from the rotorhead to the controls. "Our goal is to offer a system which will be low in cost, weight and maintenance - and we believe it will be very popular," says Kurt Robinson. The system, which is scheduled to receive certification by mid-1999, will be sold initially as an option to the manual controls now offered, but Robinson is considering offering hydraulics as standard on all R44 models at a later date. The company declines to disclose a price.

Meanwhile, Robinson delivered its seventh R44 electronic news gathering (ENG) helicopter to an unnamed US-based news corporation on 2 July. The company has a further five orders for the ENG variant, equipped with a gyro-stabilised broadcast video camera, monitors and a microwave transmitter. All the aircraft are scheduled for delivery within 90 days.

Source: Flight International