Robinson Helicopter’s Pilot Safety Course Provides the Groundwork for Safer Helicopter Flights

Robinson Helicopter Company, a prominent player in the civil helicopter industry, has an impressive list of achievements. Since its incorporation in 1973, the Torrance based company has delivered thousands of R22, R44, and R66 helicopters to private pilots and commercial operators around the world.

In April 2021, Robinson Helicopter Company’s 13,000th aircraft rolled out off its assembly line.  During Robinson Helicopter’s 40+ years of operation, Robinson helicopters have accumulated more than 45 million hours in the air.

Maintaining a Consistent Focus on Safety

Achieving customer satisfaction is key to maintaining good relationships and attracting new business. On top of that, Robinson Helicopter founder Frank Robinson always made pilot and helicopter safety a top priority.

Frank Robinson worked closely with Robinson Helicopter’s engineers, many of whom are also helicopter pilots. The highly skilled team often collaborated on design and production issues, making sure that production decisions were always made with safety as the primary consideration.

When Frank Robinson retired in 2010, he turned the company’s operations over to his son, Kurt Robinson, who has kept his father’s vision alive by ensuring that pilot safety remains at the forefront.

Tim Tucker, Robinson Helicopter’s Chief Safety Course Instructor, plays a major role in the company’s pilot and helicopter safety programs. He regularly conducts Pilot Safety Courses at Robinson Helicopter’s Torrance, California, factory.

The Pilot Safety Course

The Robinson Helicopter Pilot Safety Course is a three-day class that consists of intensive classroom instruction on various aspects of helicopter flight. During the course, attendees are also invited to tour the Robinson Helicopter manufacturing facility.

The Pilot Safety Course also includes a one-hour flight (approximate) with an experienced Robinson Helicopter instructor pilot. The flight takes place in an R22, R44, or R66 helicopter.

Who Should Attend

The Pilot Safety Course is geared toward flight instructors. However, the company also extends an invitation to rated helicopter pilots with three or more hours logged in an R22, R44, or R66.

Student pilots are welcome to enroll in anticipation of receiving their helicopter rating. However, they must have obtained the rating before they attend the course.

More experienced pilots may use the course to refresh their knowledge and/or gain a deeper understanding of certain concepts and procedures. Finally, helicopter pilots without recent flight time will benefit from the course’s structured approach and thorough coverage of many aspects of helicopter flight.

The Pilot Safety Course is taught entirely in English, and all written materials are presented in English.

Course Curriculum

Topics include helicopter theory and an in-depth aircraft systems review. The instructor will also discuss maintenance and preflight protocols, along with tail rotor and aircraft operation. There is also a strong focus on proper ground safety procedures.

Students will also benefit from a review of the Pilot Operating Handbook. Topics include applicable FAA regulations, helicopter performance, flight limitations, and emergency procedures.

With a focus on accident avoidance, the instructor will discuss critical flight conditions. In compliance with SFAR 73, the instructor will present a detailed Awareness Training module.

Course Logistics

Each day of class begins promptly at 8:00 a.m., and all participants must arrive by 7:45 a.m. The course ends at approximately 4:00 p.m. daily, although the instructor will decide when to adjourn for the day. It should go without saying, but students must attend the entire Pilot Safety Course to receive a Certificate of Completion. There is no partial credit in the Pilot Safety Course.

Course Tuition

The tuition fees include three days of classroom instruction and one hour of flight time. Robinson Helicopter will also provide coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and lunch on all three class days.

The course’s cost depends on the helicopter model selected for the flight component and ranges between $650 and $1,250. Here is a breakdown of the specific costs:

  • R22: $650.00
  • R44: $850.00
  • R66: $1,250.00

What to Bring

Similarly, to any standardized test, all students are required to bring their own writing instrument, paper, headset (required on flight day only), logbook (required on flight day only), and Pilot Operating Handbook for the R22, R44, or R66, depending on which aircraft they will be flying in.

Registration Process

To be accepted into the Pilot Safety Course, each applicant must submit a completed application, tuition payment (paid in full), a copy of their helicopter pilot certificate (front and back and showing the pilot’s rating), and a copy of a government-issued ID. Failure to present any of these requirements will disqualify the student from attending the course.

Registration Guidelines

The Robinson Helicopter Pilot Safety Course is a popular offering, and a session can fill up several months in advance. If the preferred date is not available, please bear in mind that an alternative date will be scheduled on behalf of the prospective student, which Robinson will confirm via an official confirmation email.

Alternatively, if there are not enough students registered for a given session, the course is subject to cancellation, at which point Robinson will notify the registered students of the cancellation.

If an applicant does not receive confirmation within one week of sending their application, they should contact the Course Administrator at courses@robinsonheli.com. Applicants should not make travel arrangements until they receive a formal email confirmation.

Registration Policies

If an applicant registers for a specific course and finds that they cannot attend, they must notify Robinson Helicopter in writing two or more weeks before the scheduled course date. If the company does not receive two weeks’ notice, 50 percent of the tuition cost will be required to reschedule. If this condition is met, the applicant will receive a 90 percent refund.

If Robinson Helicopter does not receive the written cancellation two or more weeks before the scheduled course date, the applicant will not receive a refund. Note that “no-shows” forfeit their entire tuition, and there are no exceptions. In addition, registration and tuition are not transferable.

About Robinson Helicopter

Robinson Helicopter Company is an industry-leading civilian helicopter manufacturing company based in Torrance, California. Frank Robinson, an accomplished helicopter engineer and pilot, launched the business in 1973. Shortly thereafter, he built the company’s prototype R22 helicopter in a leased aircraft hangar.

Robinson helicopters are known for their reliability, ease of maintenance, distinctive design, and economical operation costs, all of which make Robinson’s offerings highly sought after helicopters.

Robinson Helicopter Product Overview

Robinson Helicopter Company began offering aircraft for sale in 1979. The two-seat R22 was first off the production line and was later joined by the R44 and R66. Today, the Robinson Helicopter product lineup includes the R22 Beta II, along with multiple versions of the R44 and R66.

Special-Purpose R44s and R66s

The R44 and R66 helicopters have been Robinson Helicopter’s best-selling aircraft, respectively. In addition, each of these models has been modified for special-purpose applications.

R44 Cadet

Robinson Helicopter’s two-seat R44 Cadet is optimally suited for flight school use. It appeals to pilots who want the economy of a small helicopter without giving up large helicopter power and performance.

R44 and R66 Newscopter

Robinson Helicopter’s R44 and R66 have been adapted for TV news gathering.  Each specially outfitted aircraft carries electronic news-gathering hardware such as monitors, cameras, and video equipment. Collectively, this sophisticated electronics suite enables efficient audio and video capture for live television news reports.

R66 Turbine Police Helicopter

The R66 turbine helicopter has been modified for police helicopter use and can stay on station for up to three hours. The R66 police version contains the latest navigation and surveillance gear.

As Robinson Helicopter Company looks toward the future, its leadership will continue to keep pilot and helicopter safety at the forefront of its operations. The Pilot Safety Course is an important component of that overarching goal.

The photo credit for the featured image is: Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

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