|Robinson Model R.22|
Based at Torrance in California, Franklin D. Robinson set about designing and building a cost-effective light helicopter targeted at the private individual, small business man and training school market.
In 1972 Robinson produced the small two-seat R-22, powered by a Lycoming piston engine and developed from the start for low operating and maintenance costs. The Robinson two-blade rotor system was designed around a patented three-hinge coupling that does away with lag hinges, dampers and hydraulics. An elastic teeter hinge stop was later included to prevent the rotors from striking the tail boom while winding up or running down in gusting winds (Beta model). To reduce operating costs the R-22 is built from non-exotic materials, relying on standard aerospace metals with an emphasis on durability and maintainability. Other than routine maintenance every 100 hours, the helicopter only requires a factory overhaul every 2000hrs of flight.
The first R-22 flew in August 1975 and was soon certified by the FAA (1979) in the US and in the UK (CAA) in 1981. The R-22 sold quickly and in 1983 a modified R-22A was certified to allow the helicopter to undertake IFR training and operate with US Police Forces who had shown an interest. Over 500 of these models sold world-wide and in August 1985 the latest R-22 Beta model was announced.
The R-22 Beta continues to sell around the world especially to the private individual/businessman and to helicopter schools. Improvements to the Beta model include uprated 160hp Lycoming O-320-B2C engine, high-capacity oil cooler, improved heater, demister, silencer and rotor brake. This compact two-seater can cruise at 178km/h and with a twenty US gallon tank of fuel travel for 385km. The helicopter has proved itself to be one of the most economical and cost-effective helicopters and this has been shown by the helicopter's remarkable sales record.
P.Allen "The Helicopter", 1996
From the time that helicopters became practical aircraft their unit costs have always been high in comparison with those of fixed-wing aircraft of similar capacity. In the United States Franklin D. Robinson formed the Robinson Helicopter Company to design and market a lightweight civil helicopter which would be competitive in price with two-seat fixed-wing aircraft then on the market. His Robinson Model R22 prototype flew for the first time on 28 August 1975, followed by a second in early 1977, and these two aircraft were used to gain FAA and CAA certification in 1979 and 1981 respectively. This basic model, which became known as the R22 Alpha, was replaced from the 501st aircraft onwards, in 1985, by the upengined R22 Beta. The R22 family has sold in huge numbers around the world, representing the first affordable helicopter for private use, with 402 produced in 1991 alone. There have also been military customers, such as Turkey, who ordered 10 for basic pilot training. Over 2300 R22s of all versions had been delivered by early 1993, with a healthy order book also.
R22 Mariner: fitted with floats and wheels, first delivered for offshore work in Mexico and Venezuela
R22 Police: version with special communications fit and optional port-side controls. Uprated electrical generator for searchlight, loudspeaker, siren and ATC transponder
R22 IFR: training version with improved flight instruments and radio for Instrument Flying Rules operations
External load R22: additional cargo hook certified to carry 181kg underslung load. When fitted aircraft has a VNE (never exceed speed) limit of 139km/h. Conversions undertaken by Classic Helicopter Corp. of Boeing Field, Seattle, Wa.
R22 Agricultural: equipped with low-profile belly hopper and spray-bar system
D.Donald "The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft", 1997
By September 2003, Robinson had produced 5,000 helicopters, including 390 in 2000, 328 in 2001 and 255 in 2002. Production rate 11 helicopters per week in 2003. Factory floor area 24,150m2. Workforce totals 820. Company is ISO 9001 certified.
ROBINSON R22 BETA II
TYPE: Two-seat helicopter.
PROGRAMME: Design began 1973; first flight 28 August 1975; first flight of second R22 early 1977; FAA certification 16 March 1979; UK certification June 1981; Japanese certification 18 November 2002; deliveries began October 1979; early versions were R22 (O-320-A2B engine; 199 built) and R22HP (O-320-B2C; 151 built), both with 621kg max T-O weight. R22 Alpha (O-320- B2C and 621kg MTOW) certified October 1983 (further 151 built); R22 Beta certified 5 August 1985. Current Beta II introduced in 1995. More powerful Textron Lycoming O-360 engine provides better high-level hover performance and allows take-off power to be sustained up to 2,285m. Previously optional, tinted windscreen and door windows fitted as standard. Production began at c/n 2571 in 1995.
CUSTOMERS: Total production more than 3,300 by end of 2002. 3,000th handed over 15 October 1999; deliveries in 1999 totalled 128, followed by 126 in 2000, 134 in 2001, and 107 in 2002.
COSTS: US$170,000 for basic R22 Beta II (2003). Direct operating cost US$27.30 per hour; total cost (500 hours annually) US$76.61 per hour (2003).
DESIGN FEATURES: Simple, pod-and-boom light helicopter; horizontal stabiliser, starboard side only; vertical stabiliser above and below boom; offset to starboard; tall rotor mast. Horizontally mounted piston engine drives transmission through multiple V belts and sprag-type overrunning clutch; main and tail gearboxes use spiral bevel gears; maintenance-free flexible couplings of proprietary manufacture used in both main and tail rotor drives. Two-blade semi-articulated main rotor, with tri-hinged underslung rotor head to reduce blade flexing, rotor vibration and control force feedback, and an elastic teeter hinge stop to prevent blade-boom contact when starting or stopping rotor in high winds; blade section NACA 63-015 (modified); two-blade tail rotor on port side; rotor brake standard.
FLYING CONTROLS: Manual. Removable dual controls standard.
STRUCTURE: All-metal bonded blades with stainless steel spar and leading-edge, light alloy skin and light alloy honeycomb filling; frame section of steel tube with light alloy skinning; full monocoque light alloy tailboom.
LANDING GEAR: Welded steel tube and light alloy skid landing gear, with energy-absorbing crosstubes.
POWER PLANT: One Textron Lycoming O-360 flat-four engine, derated to 97.5kW, mounted in the lower rear section of the main fuselage, with cooling fan. Light alloy main fuel tank in upper rear section of the fuselage on port side, usable capacity 72.5 litres. Optional auxiliary fuel tank, capacity 39.75 litres. Oil capacity 5.7 litres. Transmission overhaul interval 2,200 hours or 12 years.
ACCOMMODATION: Two seats side by side in enclosed cabin, with inertia reel shoulder harness. Curved two-panel, tinted windscreen. Removable door, with tinted window, on each side. Baggage space beneath each seat. Cabin heated and ventilated.
SYSTEMS: Electrical system, powered by 12V DC alternator, includes navigation, panel and map lights, dual landing lights, anti-collision light and battery.
AVIONICS: Comrns. Bendix/King KY 197A VHF com radio; KT 76C transponder with Mode C altitude encoder; and NAT AA 80 intercom system with floor and hand switches. Options include Garmin 430 GPS/COM/VOR/LOC/GS with 106A CDI, replacing KY 197A; Pointer 3000-10 or 4000-10 (Canadian spec) ELT; NAT AA 12 intercom controller; and David Clark H10-13H or Bose Series X headsets.
EQUIPMENT: Standard equipment includes rotor brake; tinted windscreen and windows; belly hardpoint; dual landing lights; navigation, panel and map lights; anti-collision light; ground handling wheels; rotor blade tiedowns; and windscreen cover.
Optional equipment includes three-cylinder engine priming system; RHC oil filter; cabin heater/defogger; metallic base or trim exterior colours; and leather seats.
Jane's All the World's Aircraft, 2004-2005
- It is estimated that over 13,000 student pilots have made their first helicopter solo in this aircraft.
- The first R22 prototype flew on August 28, 1975, and the second in 1977.
- Total production of the R22 had exceeded 2,500 aircraft by 1995.
- Despite the company's small size, Robinson achieved a production rate of about 30 R22s per month.
- The Turkish army is the only military user of the R22, as a basic flight trainer.
- Argentina's police forces are acquiring R22s fitted with both floats and wheels.