- Design features
- Secrets of the power plant
- Flight performance
- Comfort and safety
- Secondary market
A rare driver, hitting a long traffic jam, did not complain that his car was unable to rise into the air and fly over a traffic jam. Especially annoying is the oversupply of transport when time is worth more than money. Such a situation happens to people managing large sums, for whom being late for a business meeting can turn into huge losses. As a rule, successful businessmen buy cars that are expensive. And here is the solution. The cost of the Robinson helicopter is quite within the price range of the executive class car, not inferior in comfort to the Cadillac, and the road problems are unknown to him.
Aircraft of personal use in the West appeared long ago, but before they were available only to very rich people. In the eighties of the twentieth century, the American firm Robinson Helicopter caught the perspective of the small private aviation market and began developing a model of a helicopter capable of filling a middle-class consumer niche. In fact, it was supposed to be a “flying car”, in which, besides the pilot, three or four passengers with luggage could fit. In America, people often travel in their cars, overcoming distances of up to a thousand kilometers, and Robinson calculated this distance. The helicopter, in addition to these requirements, was designed to have other important properties: easy handling and piloting skills, fuel economy, long service life, ease of maintenance, reliability, safety and comfort. Complying with all these conditions in one machine is not an easy task, and the design bureau of the company had to work well. Almost a decade was spent on the development of the helicopter. In 1990, the Robinson helicopter of the first model R44 was generally ready, after a couple of years it was certified and was introduced to the small-size aviation market.
The analogy with the car comes to mind immediately after becoming acquainted with the flight data of the aircraft. Robinson helicopter weighs a little over a ton with fuel, pilot, passengers and their luggage. This approximately corresponds to the curb weight of "Zhiguli". Fuel in the tanks fit 185 liters, which is enough for three to four and a half hours or 650 kilometers of flight. However, those who have had to deal with the means of small aircraft in life know that it is not enough to fly to their destination, you also need to be able to land there. And this requires an airfield (if the flight takes place on an airplane) or a suitable platform (for a helicopter). The diameter of the “Robinson” rotor slightly exceeds ten meters, the overall overall size is 11.75 m, but this does not mean that it is easy to land on any plane bounded by this length, some more stock is needed. However, the requirements for the landing conditions of this machine are simplified as much as possible due to another design feature - the screw is located high, more than three meters above the ground, and the probability of it being caught on some obstacle is small. In other words, the Robinson helicopter does not need a specially prepared landing pad.
Secrets of the power plant
The machine is built according to the classical scheme with one carrying propeller and one steering (compensation) screw located on the beam. The power plant is located behind the cab and includes an engine with a gearbox. The type of motor, depending on the modification, can be IO-540 or O-540 Lycoming - in both cases the power slightly exceeds 260 horsepower; the number of cylinders is six. At the same time in the cabin of the helicopter is relatively quiet. The secret of low noise, durability and high reliability of the power plant is in redundancy, that is, power reserve. It works “half-power”, does not overstrain, which, together with interesting applied materials (including composite materials), which provide low noise and, at the same time, increased wear resistance, leads to very good results.
There are few rotary-winged cars, so obedient to the pilot, as the "Robinson". The helicopter is designed for one pilot, but if necessary, the passenger sitting to his right can take on piloting. To do this, it is enough for him to turn the control knob (cyclical stroke) in his direction and use his own step control lever and a gala, which both front seats are provided with on the left. Not every low-tonnage helicopter is equipped with a dual control function, but it is important both for improving safety and for training pilots, who often become the owners of cars.
Each aircraft is estimated by experts on a set of objective indicators, measured in numbers. Thus, the possibility of operating the machine in the northern latitudes or the tropics sets the temperature range in which the flight remains safe. In the considered technical sample, it is wide - from -30 ° C to + 40 ° C, from which it can be concluded that it can work almost throughout Russia. Cruising (i.e., normal operational) speed of the Robinson helicopter is approximately 110 miles per hour (in US units) or our 177 km / h, but can reach 190 in the afterburner. If we consider the straightness of the trajectory, the advantages of air transport become apparent. The maximum flight altitude, called ceiling by aviators, reaches 4, 250 meters, but it usually passes below, at one and a half thousand, on which the Robinson helicopter uses the most fuel. Characteristics depend on the model and degree of development of the service life.
Firm Robinson Helicopter in terms of production is difficult to compare with such “whales” of the American aircraft industry as “Boeing”, “Sikorsky” or “McDonnel-Douglas”. The company has achieved commercial success in a narrowly defined segment of the small aviation market. However, this does not mean that its products are intended only for private buyers, it is also acquired by state structures (for example, for the police), and not only American ones. To cover the largest consumer spectrum, seven modifications of the Robinson helicopter are made:
- "Astro" - equipped with an O-540 engine.
- “Raven” is a commercial model with a reinforced O-540-F1B5 engine on a metal sled that can withstand landing on particularly hard surfaces.
- “Clipper” - float version (hydro-helicopter).
- "Equal II" - has an injection engine IO-540-AE1A5. In addition, the propeller blades are made wider. Also expanded navigation capabilities that allow flight with limited or zero visibility.
- “Clipper II” - the same “Raven II” in hydrovariant.
- “Ay-Ef-Ar Trainer” - as the name implies, a training model equipped with all necessary equipment.
- "Policy II" - a car for the police, equipped accordingly.
Comfort and safety
Flying a Robinson helicopter is not much different from a trip in a regular car on a good road. The seats are comfortable, luggage boxes are built under them. The glazing is also encouraging, and not only the pilot (for him this question has a utilitarian meaning: the better the view, the easier it is to navigate in space), but also passengers who are just interested.
As for the danger of a crash, it certainly exists, but its probability is far less than when moving on other types of transport. Even engine failure most often does not lead to tragic consequences - this is a feature not only of “Robinson” (and it is very light), but in general of all helicopters capable of making relatively soft landings due to the inertial rotation of the rotor (it is called autorotation).
Most often, this type of car is involved in accidents due to insufficient pilot preparedness or improper operation.
The factory price of “Robinson R-44” in the United States is about $ 300 thousand. Taking into account dealer profit and customs clearance costs, it reaches 450 thousand in Russia. Such a high cost encourages potential owners to look for ways to save money by purchasing the necessary equipment in the secondary market, where the purchase can be made by paying from 270 to 400 thousand US dollars. Nine out of ten rotary-winged cars are sold exactly this way; the Robinson helicopter is no exception. The photo of the proposed device says little about it, the set of data on the motor resources of nodes and the general age are of much greater importance. The time between overhauls cannot exceed 2200 hours (which, by the way, is not cheap - you have to pay approximately $ 60 thousand). You should also pay attention to the balance of the resource of each of the units, especially the most expensive ones. The fact is that the aircraft manufacturers of the whole world receive the main profit not from the sale of equipment, but from its efficient supply with components and consumables.