Robinson Helicopter issued a Service Bulletin (SB-109) requiring retrofit installation of fuel bladders in all R22s through S/N 4620 “as soon as practical,” but no later than the next 2,200-hour overhaul or 12-year inspection. It began installing fuel bladders in new-production R22s early last year beginning with S/N 4622.
The bladder tanks replace the standard aluminum main and auxiliary tanks and make the helicopter more fire resistant in the event of an accident by reducing the likelihood of post-impact fuel leaks. While they hold 3.8 gallons less, reducing endurance by 25 minutes, the replacement tanks increase allowable useful load with full fuel and add three pounds to the allowable amount of installed optional equipment.
Robinson is currently installing the bladders as part of factory overhauls on the R22. Customers with main and auxiliary tanks installed need to order the bladder kit from Robinson and follow the instructions. The kit, which is being discounted from $15,740 to $6,400, includes the main and auxiliary bladder tanks, hardware and hoses. Owners of R22s without auxiliary tanks must contact Robinson directly for assistance.
Robinson’s move comes in the wake of its offering a similar program for the larger R44. The NTSB recommended installation of bladder tanks after concluding that several R44 crashes would have been survivable had the occupants not succumbed to “thermal injuries” triggered by breaches in the aircraft’s aluminum fuel tanks.