History of the Robinson R22
The Robinson R22 has undisputedly been the world's most popular light helicopter since its introduction in the late 1970s.
The R22 was designed by the founder of the Robinson Helicopter Company, Frank Robinson. The R22 was conceived to be an efficient, cheap to acquire (with a purchase cost comparable to two/four seat light aircraft), reliable and economical to operate multi purpose two seat light helicopter.
Design work on the R22 began in the 1970s, and an 85kW (115hp) Lycoming O235 powered prototype flew for the first time on August 28 1975. Certification of the R22 was delayed somewhat to March 1979 however by the loss of the prototype. Despite this setback though the R22 was an overnight success, and several hundred had been ordered by the time the first were delivered from October 1979.
A number of variants and developments of the R22 have been offered. These include the improved R22 Alpha introduced in 1983, and the more powerful R22 Beta from 1985. The R22 Mariner is equipped with floats, the R22 Police version is fitted with special communications gear, a searchlight, siren and loudspeaker, the R22 Agricultural is fitted with tanks and booms for agricultural spraying, while the R22 IFR is fitted with IFR instrumentation for helicopter IFR flight training.
The latest R22 model is the R22 Beta II, powered by a 120kW (160hp) O360 derated to 98kW (131hp) for takeoff for improved hot and high performance (as takeoff power can be maintained up to 7500ft). The Beta II was introduced into production in 1995 and certificated in early 1996.
R22 uses are varied and include helicopter pilot training, cattle mustering, traffic reporting and police work.
- R22 - One 93kW (124hp) Lycoming O360A2B flat four piston engine driving a two blade main rotor and two blade tail rotor. R22 Beta - One 98kW (131hp) takeoff rated Textron Lycoming O320B2C.
- R22 - Max speed 180km/h (97kt), 75% power cruising speed 174km/h (94kt), economical cruising speed 153km/h (82kt). Initial rate of climb 1200ft/min. Service ceiling 14,000ft. Hovering ceiling in ground effect 6500ft. Range with max payload and no reserves 385km (207nm). R22 Beta - Max speed 180km/h (97kt), 75% power cruising speed 177km/h (96kt), economical cruising speed 153km/h (82kt). Initial rate of climb 1200ft/min. Hovering ceiling in ground effect 6970ft. Range with max payload, auxiliary fuel and no reserves 590km (320nm). Endurance 3hr 20min.
- R22 - Empty 361kg (796lb), max takeoff 590kg (1300lb). R22 Beta - Empty 379kg (835lb), max takeoff 620kg (1370lb).
- Main rotor diameter 7.67m (25ft 2in), length overall rotors turning 8.76m (28ft 9in), fuselage length 6.30m (20ft 8in), height 2.72m (8ft 11in). Main rotor disc area 46.2m2 (497.4sq ft).
- Typical seating for two, side by side. R22 Agricultural is fitted with a 150 litre (33Imp gal) capacity chemical tank.
- Over 2900 R22s of all versions have been built (including some against military orders).
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