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#1 Joseph-Sherman

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Posted 28 June 2018 - 17:51

 In my original post I was looking for advice on personal helicopter. It would be my first purchase. I did the research and there are many that has potential. MD helicopters are nimble and fast but cramped for space so that's out. I am familiar with Bell but that's about it. The first time I had seen an as350 I fell in love with it but never flew in it.

The AW119 seems to have everything that I liked but it's made oversea and I'm concerned about support. It looks like a choice between Bell Longranger/407 or AS350/H125. 

How do they compare?

Thanks


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#2 Eric Hunt

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Posted 28 June 2018 - 20:41

If you are worried about them furriners and their lack of support, steer clear of the AS350. Pilot plus 5 (1 in front, 4 across back, but some front bench seats are available to give plus 6) but some horrible problems if you don't understand the hydraulic system and its test and failure modes.

 

LongRangers are fast, smooth, reliable and easy to put in a hangar. Pilot plus 6 (1 front, 2 mid, 3 rear) but some cg requirements for partial loads - pretty simple to follow.

 

407 are slightly bigger, maybe faster, but more expensive and take up more room.


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#3 Joseph-Sherman

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Posted 29 June 2018 - 08:03

I understand the H125 is made in the U.S. Would that mean support would be good and at least be made by Americans? I know Bell is made in Canada. It won't stop me from making a wise decision though. I also know I'll have to try them, I just want to do my homework before I spend a few bucks on airfare, hotel and so forth.

Thanks



#4 Wally

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Posted 29 June 2018 - 09:21

The Astar (AS350, H125, whatever it is called this week) is ASSEMBLED in the US, very little is manufactured here. It is startlingly simple, but that comes with 'gotchas' because the systems, airframe is SO simple.
Roomy cabin, 2 poor cargo and 1 marginal cargo compartment, but aftermarket side bay extensions ('squirrel cheeks') overcome that, all the room for stuff you can imagine. "Cheeks" bring almost insignificant performance loss.
The B3 series is flown in the Himalayas, adequate power up to "oxygen for the pilot altitudes". Faster than a Long Ranger. Cabin opens up better to a rapidly clear-able floor plan, really one big box. Better in turbulence* than 2-bladed helos.

The Long Ranger is, well- deservedly legendary, Amen. Pretty quick clean and light, in use not so much. Helicopters are for short hops, the difference over more than an hour is where pure speed shows up, offsetting somewhat the Long Ranger's lack of modern speed.
Proven design, but cockpit and cabin elbow-bumping narrow and long. Stretcher kits, lots of mods available. The two blades make it easy to hangar, good in the hover and a great auto-rotational flyer. It has 'gotchas' but more in the pilot technique than system design.

Never flown a 407, but is reputed to be fast and strong. The newest models make more power at altitude, but are not 350B3 strong. Same cabin, more or less, as the later Long Ranger L4. I do hear complaints about system automation, integration.

I can't comment on support for Bell or Aerospatiale/Eurocopter/Airbus, I have always worked for really big operators who handle that. Far as I was concerned, if mine was broke, they just gave me another. The job I just retired from went hot and cold from airframe to airframe manufacturer. If they were unhappy it was a cosmic issue, requiring divine intervention to create or resolve.

What hasn't been mentioned is powerplants, and engine makers do business with everybody. Safran SA, who make most Astar engines, has a reputation for being difficult at times. They can afford to be so very 'French' because many of their engines are SUPERB!

*"Better in turbulence" exposes one of the AS350/H125 'gotchas' in the single hydraulic models- servo transparency. I have been bounced around REALLY good in an Astar, no problem. But on a couple occasions a servo could not respond when I initiated a correction., becoming an unboosted mechanical control. It passes quickly if one can relax the input a little, but if one is flying the airframe hard where less roll is not an option, it can be very bad.
Never encountered a servo transparency in dual hydralic Aerospats, but did see the 'limit' light that indicated one side of the servo system was at the limit.

Edited by Wally, 29 June 2018 - 09:42.

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Just a pilot (retired, so I have a LOT of time)...


#5 Fred0311

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Posted 29 June 2018 - 10:41

So I haven't done much Astar flying but a place I worked for had three of them, it was like pulling teeth for them to get parts or support. Never had a problem with support for Bells.

#6 takefootoff

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Posted 29 June 2018 - 11:14

Awfully curious to see what the Van Horn MRB's are gonna do for L4 performance.

Would also be pretty cool if Eagle offered that honeywell engine conversion for the L4 like they do the 407.

Van Horn blades all around, HTS900 motor and a Soloy hi-vis door kit on a clean L4!

...ok now I'm nerding out

Edited by takefootoff, 29 June 2018 - 11:15.


#7 cherminator

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Posted 29 June 2018 - 12:41

Helicopter Comparison: Airbus AS350-B3 versus Bell 206L-4

 

Helicopter Comparison: Bell 407 vs Airbus H125

 

There are Astars (H125) everywhere up here in Canada because of their power and versatility. 

 

I've tried to like the L4 but it bugs me that the seats aren't removable or foldable. More of a corporate machine imo. Does anyone know if anyone makes a removable seat mod for the L4?

 

Would also be pretty cool if Eagle offered that honeywell engine conversion for the L4 like they do the 407.

 

 

I wish someone did something similar for the under-powered EC120. I think it would be a big hit.



#8 Eric Hunt

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Posted 29 June 2018 - 13:58

You can't take out the LR seats because you are sitting on the fuel tanks.



#9 Joseph-Sherman

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Posted 30 June 2018 - 14:13

I had some old brochures and a thick manual where you could pull the seats for cargo. Maybe they stopped that option?!



#10 Eric Hunt

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Posted 30 June 2018 - 14:43

No, the padded seat sections were mounted on the big box fuel tanks. You could remove the seat cushions to avoid any damage from sharp things or greasy spills, but the room available was only marginally increased - the tanks were still there, part of the airframe.



#11 Joseph-Sherman

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Posted 30 June 2018 - 18:24

To the pilots that have flown L4 and AS30/H125 if you were to make a choice to which you would personally own what would be your choice and why? I definitely do not want to waist my time looking at aircraft and getting caught up in the pizazz of an aircraft when I don't know the facts and most important, the pilots thoughts and experience.



#12 r22butters

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Posted 30 June 2018 - 18:54

sh*t, if I made my choice based on what other pilots thought, I'd be flying the ugliest, slowest, most back breaking, overpriced, shitty tailrotored piece of junk I've ever flown!

Just take them out for a test drive and pick the one YOU like!
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Side boob is just so awesome,...yes it is!

#13 Hand_Grenade_Pilot

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Posted 30 June 2018 - 20:41

To the pilots that have flown L4 and AS30/H125 if you were to make a choice to which you would personally own what would be your choice and why? I definitely do not want to waist my time looking at aircraft and getting caught up in the pizazz of an aircraft when I don't know the facts and most important, the pilots thoughts and experience.

I have experience with both (AS350 BA/B2 and B206 L3/L4). From what youve described about your situation, I would recommend the B206L4, based on handling characteristics and system design.

While the AS350 has better ergonomics and is more comfortable, it is a handful to handle in a hover if you dont have time in type; theres a reason it is nick named the squirrel. B2 and prior has the fuel control as a floor lever rather than a collective throttle; can be a potential hazard when hot loading/unloading and even in flight if passengers are careless. Flying hydraulics off is possible, but is harder to manage than the B206L4.

The B206L4 is much more stable in a hover, and has flight characteristics similar to an R44. The 2 blade M/R gives you a great glide profile in an auto compared to the AS350, and has a much smaller storage profile. The L4 uses switches and circuit breakers, which I prefer over the push buttons and fuses used in the 350. I also prefer Bells instrumentation and flight manual layout. Also, the L4 has a litter door on the left side, which provides easy access to the rear passenger compartment.

To keep it simple, the 206L4 is the more practical, forgiving and less expensive of the two and should suit your needs well.

Also, if you will be operating in a performance limited environment, the B407 has a very similar design with a significantly larger power margin and more T/R authority, although it will obviously be more expensive.
Aviation is a cruel mistress. When she's not taking your money, she's coming up with creative ways to kill you.

#14 Wally

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Posted 01 July 2018 - 09:38

In a previous life, I would switch between the Astar and Long Ranger.  Fly one in, the other out.  Choosing between them would be purely a personal preference.  My preference changed hour to hour.

 

I lean toward the Astar purely for pilot comfort, roomy pilot accomodation.

I liked the Astar for having elbow room cabin in the and the door pockets.

It's easier to be involved with the critters, er- crew/pax in the Astar, being in the one big box (psychologically) inclines everybody to be part of the group.  Intercomming, trying to look back into the passenger compartment over the Bell's seat back and around the broom closet is somewhat similar to being in an airliner pilot compartment.

The big box cabin with a level floor is a plus.

The newer Airbus/Eurocopter/Aerospatiale models have energy attenuating seats, a HUGE survivability improvement and much more comfortable than the previous fiberglass buckets. 

They use more fuel than I remember Bells using, but the direct operating costs compare well in the sunshine and blue sky comparisons published.

No problems with the Squirrel hover after I gave up trying to be smooth. Lifting is a 4 part process, you lift each corner separately, but the right skid heel is almost always last.  Touchdown is the opposite, except that doing it right means absolutely never trying for an imperceptible touchdown.  You hold the aircraft over the spot, no translation, adjusting controls for attitude changes, darts and twitches until the collective bottoms.  It will get busy the last six inches, expect that and deal with it, but never ever guess when that last six inches is gone, and you've touched down.

Hovers are busy, but easier, everything is quick but proportional. 

The tail rotor is significantly lower than the Bell, I've seen'em ankle high as the skids touch on a level helipad if the aircraft is light.  That's something to bear in mind for unimproved area landings.

The good news in that is that the aft skid, the stinger, is stout and the tail rotor is a really substantial structure, it will take a beating before it gives up on you.

 

The Long Ranger is narrow, you sit on the forward saddle tanks and have the control linkages running up the broom closet between the two front seats. 

The middle and forward seat backs, broom closet, etc., make this a two compartment aircraft, pax/cargo bay and pilot compartment.

Very little stowage up front and little room to improvise.

Switches and circuit breakers are almost all accessible from the pilot seat.  You can 'braille' them after a while, don't have to look.  The Aerospats have higgledy-piggledy arrangements, big panels,little panels here and there, some fuses(!!!!) and breakers you can't see from the pilot's seat.  You have to stand on your head, etc. to identify.  Aerospat original equipment switches, even those required for normal operation are J-U-N-K.  Bells, in this department, are immeasurable better.

Bells are more stable in the hover, but I prefer the quick Aerospat hover.   Bells much better at cruise.

 

An anlogy- the Astar/H125/AS350 wants to be a sports car, nimble, quick if not fast  The Long Ranger is an old American sedan, respect limits in place and it will comfortably do almost anything you ask.  The Bell is easier to fly, the Astar more fun.

 

Was I buying, I would consider who my first level of maintenance is.  I lean toward the 350/125 if I have access to an A&P who knows them.  Truck simple if compromised air frame; big central, single cabin; and the energy attenuating pilot seats.  A bad choice if you don't have the right mechanic, it has a unique French design philosophy.

 

But- I would be perfectly happy with the Long Ranger.  It doesn't shine in any one area, but no disqualifying compromises in any area, like the (expletive deleted) fuse and breaker panels on the Astar.

 

P.S.  The Astar is called the squirrel ("écureuil") in France because the squirrel is considered hard working and thrifty.  Think of the ant in "the ant and the grasshopper" Aesop fable.


Edited by Wally, 01 July 2018 - 16:17.

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Just a pilot (retired, so I have a LOT of time)...


#15 Joseph-Sherman

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Posted 01 July 2018 - 11:35

I want to thank everybody for their sound impute. I appreciate your experience and sound wisdom. The only other thing I could ask is a reference to a reputable broker or dealer. Or some one who might have both models and would be replacing them for newer. 

 New always sounds good and new car smell is great but again this is first purchase and I could always upgrade if this works out.

May God bless you all



#16 cherminator

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Posted 01 July 2018 - 22:54

I wouldn't rule out the EC130 B4/EC130 T2/Airbus H130. Great machines, very safe and quiet, easy to fly, great in turbulence (three main rotor blades), enclosed tail rotor (safer off airport landings), dual hydraulics, sexy looks, and I, at 6'2" can lay across the floor in the back with the seats removed no problem.

 

As an added bonus, Airbus just increased the overhaul time on the Arriel 2D engine (T2 and H130) to 5000 hours. This also applies to the H125.

 

Airbus and Safran roll out major competitiveness boost to H125 and H130


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#17 TailEndCharlie

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Posted 01 July 2018 - 23:39

The only other thing I could ask is a reference to a reputable broker or dealer. Or some one who might have both models and would be replacing them for newer. 
 New always sounds good and new car smell is great but again this is first purchase and I could always upgrade if this works out.
May God bless you all

 

You can try Scott Urschel at Pylon Aviation. 



#18 Joseph-Sherman

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Posted 02 July 2018 - 02:50

I did consider looking at the EC/H130. If I would get one I would like o get the optional flip up aft seats as in the as350. Have to admit a lot of elbow room. I can see where it would be effective in search and rescue. You have four doors for spotters and pilot sits in the middle concentrating on flying. The one thing I do lie about Airbus is the one button push to start them. I know the 429 starts like that now but at 6 to 8 million? Yeeessssh!



#19 Eric Hunt

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Posted 02 July 2018 - 05:25

When I joined the military, I learned to fly in the Iroquois, the UH-1B and then onto the UH-1H, a fairly simple aircraft for systems, reasonably forgiving, but a new pilot still needed a lot of supervision to avoid getting bitten in the rear end by this machine.

 

You are planning to learn to fly and step into a modern machine with more complex systems, on your own without supervision, and expect people to trust you with their lives and the lives of somebody who is in peril.

 

Many a well-meaning pilot has come to grief doing exactly this. I recall an aircraft that went down in the bush west of Sydney. Many volunteer aircraft went out to look for it, and one of them went splat and killed all but one, and she was a paraplegic. The law suits went on for a LONG time.

 

Do you really want your little selfish ambition to bring such grief to your family?

 

Leave the SAR to the people trained for it. Learn to fly, but wait until you have a few thousand hours in the log book until you attempt SAR.


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#20 Joseph-Sherman

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Posted 03 July 2018 - 13:44

To Eric Hunt, I never did say I didn't have much flight time. I just stated this would be my first purchase, however you do make a valid point.






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