Helicopter Flight Training in Robinson Helicopters?

Should you train in Robinson Helicopters?

A potential student recently contacted me and stated that a particular flight school had told him that flight time gained while training in Robinsons is not respected, and therefore does not qualify when viewed by potential employers at a later time. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have heard other people say Robinson helicopters are not real helicopters. Again, FALSE, Robinson helicopters are as real as any others. They are certificated helicopters just like the others. Anyone who makes such a statement is displaying nothing more than their personal ignorance, and in most cases the people who talk this way have never flown a Robinson.

I can tell you from a commercial perspective, that when I see an applicant was civilian trained with significant Robinson time; I know that pilot can manage power, and he/she will likely have excellent piloting skills, usually better than a pilot who has trained in any other make or model, or from any other background.

The position of the cyclic is a topic of discussion with many of those who make these statements and often seems to be the basis for their argument. First, the position of the cyclic has no relevance with regard to the way the aircraft flies. The design makes for easy entrance and exit to/from the helicopter and from that stand point, the design is brilliant. From an instruction standpoint, the design leaves something to be desired in my opinion.

Others may argue the fact that the Robinson is belt driven. This argument is not valid because many other helicopters are also belt driven including the Hughes/Schweizer and the Enstrom piston models. The Bell 47 and Hiller were exceptions with regard to piston helicopters as these were traditional drive systems.

Does the flight time count the same? Yes it certainly does! Helicopter time is helicopter time. The only place where one may be questioned with regard to type of helicopter time, is when it is relative to a particular type aircraft or job related. I can assure you that no operator gives a hoot whether any or all of your helicopter time was in a Robinson verses a Schweizer or any other piston aircraft unless you are applying for a job where a particular aircraft is being utilized, and even then they will only care that you have some time in that particular aircraft. Now-a-days with the shortage of pilots, even most turbine operators will transition those pilots who don't have any turbine time. There are of course exceptions, but not with regard to "Robinson" time.

When it comes to Robinsons, and the popularity of the R-22 for training and even some commercial operations, and with the growing popularity of the R-44 for many commercial uses, and also with consideration to the fact that one may not pilot an R-22/R-44 until they have had at least some minimal training, all aspiring pilots must consider the way that their career will be limited/handicapped at least for a period of time if they do not become qualified in Robinsons.

Are Robinsons safe? Yes of course they are; when flown within their operating limitations just as any other aircraft. You will find that most accidents occur not because of aircraft type, but rather because something else occurred, and often this event can be traced back to something having occurred prior to the aircraft ever leaving the ground. In most cases, this will be due to the fact that the pilot him or herself failed to adhere to some sort of limitation whether it was aircraft specific, or whether it was a personal limitation whether or not it was known. This brings us right back to the fact that most (more than 90 percent) of all aviation accidents occur due to pilot error, and the majority of the remaining 10 percent occur due to human error at some point.

All having been said, when pilots adhere to procedures and limitations, aviation is extremely safe. It is a very rare case when a prudent pilot finds him or herself in a devastating accident. There are many factors which will enter into the decision making process that each pilot must consider to ensure a safe flight. Aside from aircraft limitations, one must consider weather, personal limitations, environment, and outside influence. Never let someone else persuade you to do something you know otherwise to be unsafe or wrong.

Training in Robinson helicopters, or transitioning to them is a good career decision. END. Jump to Top