Frank Robinson prefers R44 to R66 (and other anecdotes)

Frank Robinson prefers R44 to R66 (and other anecdotes)

15-Oct-2010 Source: HeliHub.com

In the final episode of our series from interviewing Frank Robinson last Friday, we are today covering various anecotes from our time with him.

The most surprising point was that he prefers the R44 to the R66. Ask any marketing specialist and you are most likely to find them promoting their latest and greatest product as “the one” to buy, and likely as not the Robinson Helicopter Co (“RHC”) marketing department will tell you the same. But Frank, ever the engineer, considers the R44 with hydraulics fitted, to be his optimum helicopter from the pilot’s point of view – the smoothest and easiest-to-fly helicopter there is, he says.

Other anecdotes we picked up along the way include

* There is a market for a diesel-engined helicopter, but not a light two or four seater. Frank considers that the efficiency benefits of a diesel are negated by the weight of the engine at the bottom end of the market – effectivey rubbishing the efforts being made in Australia on the Delta D2;

* Frank does not like “pretty” helicopters – his helicopters put functionality first and he has never been concerned with making his helicopters pleasing to the eye. By taking this approach, he believes he can get the most out of the airframe from the performance point of view, and the sales of the R22 and R44 are testament that this approach has held RHC in good stead.

* He does not see any obvious two-seater successor in the market for the R22, despite having declared that RHC would not be developing the design further. Production was effectively halted for 9-12 months in the fall-out of the collapse of Silver State Helicopters, but has restarted at a low rate. Asked about his views on the Guimbal G2 Cabri being developed in France, he was complimentary at the program overall, but thought that the particular design was too complex and was ripe for technical difficulties – echoing his “functionality first” adage. When I put it to him that our hosts Sloane Helicopters consider the R44 as the successor to the R22, he agreed that it was probably the best way forward. Citing Sloane now training more ab initio pilots on the R44, and their Mallorca base having only one R22 alongside four of five R44s, Frank said that this provided further evidence to back up his claim of the hydraulic-equipped R44 being the best helicopter he has flown.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Frank Robinson for his time, and Sloane Helicopters as our hosts

This is one of a series of five articles from HeliHub.com’s interview with Frank Robinson – here are links to all five
* Frank Robinson completes UK tour
* Frank Robinson talks to HeliHub.com about the market for the R66
* Frank Robinson promises he will make it to 100
* Surviving the recession, by Frank Robinson
* Frank Robinson prefers R44 to R66 (and other anecdotes)

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