Robinson Helicopter president and CEO Frank Robinson said yesterday that he is planning within the next few weeks to flight test an R44 Raven equipped with a two-axis autopilot, possibly paving the way for IFR certification of the four-place piston helicopter. Robinson currently offers an R44 IFR trainer but it can be flown only in VFR conditions.
HAI Convention News reported yesterday that Robinson plans to encourage flight schools to use the R44 as a trainer instead of the more agile R22. Yesterday, Robinson added that to make the R44 more suitable as a trainer, the two rear seats might be removed. He added that at a fuel consumption penalty of “maybe three or four gallons per hour” over the R22, the R44 “would still be quite realistic” as a trainer. However, he noted that the R22 will continue to figure prominently in the training market for some time to come.
“I suppose when our order book gets a little emptier, we’ll be a little more anxious to move in that direction,” he said.
As for whether customers can expect a glass-panel R22 or R44 anytime soon, Robinson said he’s watching developments.