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R44 Raven II IFR trainer


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Just wondering if anyone has ever upgraded an R44 to the IFR trainer. I'm curious if there is more to it than just buying the 10 hole panel and the extra instruments & Garmin 430.

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I recently talked to our A&P/owner about doing it on a new R44 we got (he's done it for his other R44s that get leased to schools) and he said it costs about $90k to upgrade to an IFR trainer with a G430, HSI, VOR, AI, and TC. Don't know how much of a ballpark figure that was, hopefully someone who has done it personally can chime in!

 

HG0

 

edit: He said it would take 3wks.

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I don't know about that guy the owner we leased it from was quoted $13k. It has a Garmin 420 right now I assume that price included some sort of trade in. Robinson only charges an additional $35k new from the factory for an IFR trainer model.

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there is no "conversion" to make it an IFR ship... just has to have the required equipment per the far's to comply with IFR... so a vfr ship would need the additional instruments (usually t&b, AH, DG, clock, and a nav head...

If you want to do a nice job, you'd get the expanded panel and plug and play... you could equip a R44 for under 10k with some used equipment (it's not like you're going to use them in IMC).

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I completed a VFR-to-IFR conversion earlier this year with an original quote was $23K and 3 weeks. The actuals came in at $32K and 3 months, using a mixture of new and used instruments. The primary reason for the delay and increased costs? Documentation.

 

You can't just slap a 10-hole panel under the hood and fill it with instruments. You need to have the factory drawings for the panel as well as any antenna mounting provisions. Otherwise, you will need to develop your own engineering quality drawings and have a structural analysis conducted by a qualified engineer or get approval from a DER. It's not enough to simply purchase the 10-hole panel from the factory.

 

I now own an 8-inch stack of factory-stamped blueprints at a cost of over $3K that required a couple of months overall to obtain. The problem is that you don't have any documentation telling you what drawings you will need, so it becomes an almost trial-and-error iterative process to obtain a complete set for the various modifications. Oh yeah, the FSDO may ask to see the purchase order for the drawing so they are assured you are using the latest and greatest... so don't even bother asking.

 

Surprisingly (for me at least), the biggest single line item is invariably the HSI, so finding a decent used one was critical. I went with a Bendix-King KCS-55A to be consistent with the factory package. Buying one of these systems used can be very tricky as they have been around practically since the Wright brothers and I had to educate myself extensively about part numbers, serial numbers, and mod levels.

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I completed a VFR-to-IFR conversion earlier this year with an original quote was $23K and 3 weeks. The actuals came in at $32K and 3 months, using a mixture of new and used instruments. The primary reason for the delay and increased costs? Documentation.

 

You can't just slap a 10-hole panel under the hood and fill it with instruments. You need to have the factory drawings for the panel as well as any antenna mounting provisions. Otherwise, you will need to develop your own engineering quality drawings and have a structural analysis conducted by a qualified engineer or get approval from a DER. It's not enough to simply purchase the 10-hole panel from the factory.

 

I now own an 8-inch stack of factory-stamped blueprints at a cost of over $3K that required a couple of months overall to obtain. The problem is that you don't have any documentation telling you what drawings you will need, so it becomes an almost trial-and-error iterative process to obtain a complete set for the various modifications. Oh yeah, the FSDO may ask to see the purchase order for the drawing so they are assured you are using the latest and greatest... so don't even bother asking.

 

Surprisingly (for me at least), the biggest single line item is invariably the HSI, so finding a decent used one was critical. I went with a Bendix-King KCS-55A to be consistent with the factory package. Buying one of these systems used can be very tricky as they have been around practically since the Wright brothers and I had to educate myself extensively about part numbers, serial numbers, and mod levels.

What type of aircraft was it?

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It was a 300C, not an R44. Still, I can't imagine that the process would differ that much for a Robinson product rather than a Schweizer.

 

To get a conservative ballpark estimate for an R44, I'd add up the cost of all the major equipment you intend to install (including any markups), add another $2K for the miscellaneous cables, piece parts, mechanical assemblies, etc. and another $3K or so for drawings. Figure in approximately 150 hours of labor at the local rate ($50 to $90 per hour) for your avionics shop as well the cost of recertifying the transponder ($250 - $500).

 

Use this estimate for planning purposes and expect to get an estimate for approximately 20- 25% less with the real cost somewhere in between.

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Maybe it's different with each FSDO, I spoke with mine and they said all I would need to do is file a 337 on the panel and antenna installation and get field approval on the modifications.

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I'm sure that every FSDO is different - I like your guy better. That said, filing a 337 is essentially all that I did as well, however the Schweizer documentation needed to be referenced on the 337 as well.

 

Same thing when I made the extended oil dipstick modification to the aircraft. A simple modification using factory parts, but I needed to reference the drawing on the 337 and include a copy in the logbook.

 

I don't even want to discuss what I went through to replace the incandescent anti-collision light on the tailboom with an LED version. It took three tries over a two-month period to get approval. Although they're STC'd for most Cessna fixed wing as well as both Bell and Robinson helicopters, the lamps are not approved for use on Schweizer helicopter. Nonetheless, I ultimately wound up using the fixed wing STC as a basis for the 337 as none of the other analysis options were deemed unsatisfactory.

 

At the risk of possibly antagonizing your FSDO, you may want to confirm his expectations regarding exactly what needs to be included on the 337. For your sake, I am hoping that your interpretation is correct. After all, a strict interpretation of the FARs suggests that even a 337 is unnecessary for what you are planning unless the emission characteristics are altered (e.g., adding an HF radio transmitter for instance, changing the transceiver antenna location, incorporating a new waveform, etc.).

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Thanks for the input, we have an IA on staff with a friend at the FSDO I will make sure he gets some input before he tries to file the 337. I appreciate the advice.

 

By the way Dawg, now that you have an instrument ship have you been able to keep it busy with students, IPC's, etc.?

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It's actually our second IFR trainer. Business has been picking up and a second IFR-equipped aircraft was deemed necessary to accommodate students taking the accelerated IFR course. This way, we can juggle maintenance schedules such that one IFR trainer is always available and students can continue to fly without interruption.

 

Overall of course, business is down substantially compared to 3-4 years ago and I expect it to remain so until the economy improves. In particular, the economy in California has continued to worsen over the past year, and so we have been successfully marketing our programs to out-of-state students. That works especially well in January, when everyone else is shoveling snow and we're running around in shorts. :rolleyes:

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