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Modernisation of Robinson R44

Modernisation of Robinson R44 is the first so complex modernisation carried out in Poland. In this project the emphasis is placed not only on innovation but primarily on flight safety (Avidyne TAS615 system, TWX670 and MHD300 display systems).

Robinson R 44 Raven II is one the most popular lightweight helicopter driven by piston engine widely used in the world by civil operators (private users, flight training centers), aviation of public order services or military aviation (for training purposes). The avionics for R44 is available in a number of configurations but still leaves much to say. Although the client has a choice of configuration of the helicopter at the ordering stage (producer), neither of the options provide equipment which increases safety of passengers and air-awareness for the pilot.

The air traffic grows from year to year but the civil aviation equipment has not been changed for years.

According to information from the American market, FAA receives from pilots on average 577 reports a year related to events in the air which could potentially result in an accident. In 94% cases it was a consequence of lack of “See & Avoid” reaction. The VFR pilots spend approximately 50% of their flight time on scanning the outside traffic and 40% at landing / take off. Apart from looking forward, backward, to the left and right you have to look above and below. And what about approach to landing “straight way”? Who has time to look sideways when the speed varies between 150 km/h and 280 km/h? Risk of collision is the highest in the case of two aircrafts moving with different speed.

Another on the list of the most common threats for the aircraft is turbulence, hail or wind shear on low altitude. All these atmospheric events are caused by storms.

Up till now, the pilot could only depend on himself and count on luck – that the Murphy’s law will not apply- and rely on FIS team, as well as on good radio and communication system. Luckily, since the past couple of years on the avionics market we can observe modern products, which comply with extremely high requirements for equipment of this class, and which significantly improve air-awareness and safety in the air.

This situation created opportunity for modernisations carried out by independent companies. Drabpol’s PART 21 design office, as the first in Poland, designed avionic modernization on Robinson R 44 helicopter. This project comprises equipping helicopter with a number of modern avionic devices, which increase functionality and safety of the flight. It comprises of two Avidyne systems: TAS 615 (Traffic Advisory System) and Avidyne TWX 670 (Tactical Weather System). Data from systems are presented on Avidyne MHD 300 display.

Having our own PART-21 Design Office and service facilities based in Modlin - PART-145, our company as the first in Poland designed avionics modernization on Robinson R 44 helicopter. We prepared a project, manufactured necessary elements of the system, performed the modernization and together with EASA conducted certification process.