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WEIRD EPIPHANY - WHAT SHALL I DO?


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OK, My wife and I were flying home from a cross-country in my Enstrom 480B ... lumbering along at 80-knots (burning 140 lbs per hour). Just for the heck of it, I turned up the fire-maker and lowered my nose.

 

"Just how fast can I go?"

 

I was burning a lot of fuel (160 lbs an hour) and had a tough time keeping it a hair over 90 knots.

 

I love my Enstrom ... the room, the safety, the turbine, the stability, the simplicity ... etc. etc. etc.

 

But, I used to own an R-44 ... and there is nothing I can do in the 480 that I couldn't do with the Robbie.

 

I know the Robbie gets criticism for being life-limited ... and the 480B has an indefinite lifespan (if you keep up with progressive maintenance).

 

But ... I can tell you from personal experience that even with all of the R44 maintenance and lifespan issues ... you could do a complete overhaul on the R44 after 2000 hours and still be in it for less money than keeping the Enstrom alive and well for the same period of time.

 

The Robbie is pretty much a low-maintenance machine with plenty of power and speed. The Entrom has power (but no speed) ... and don't let anyone tell you it lifts more than the Robbie. Not my experience. You can easily torque out or temp out with three adults and fuel on hot days.

 

In the Robbie, I never reached my operating limit with four adults on the hottest of summer days at my elevation. Once is a while, I needed to limit fuel or plan my route ... but not a problem.

 

So, I guess I am wondering ... is it worth having a used turbine for twice the money as a brand spankin new R44 -- similarly equipped?

 

Yes, I know about the "desire for fire" and the sound of the turbine. But really ... all macho crap aside ... I can go much faster and carry just as much in a Robbie.

 

The advantages of the Enstrom is the turbine reliability, high-inertia rotors (which makes for comfortable autos), stout airframe and landing gear and extra room.

 

The Robbie is faster and way more economical to own and operate ... but what about reliability ... aren't the fuel-injected Lycomings pretty much bullet-proof these days?

 

When it comes to personal ownership ... what am I missing?

 

Tom

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Tom,

 

I have a bunch of time in an R44 and they are great helicopters. Perfect for a personal owner. Yes the 480 has some good points but overall I don't think you can beat the R44 for the reasons you mentioned. I have a former student that purchased one about 3 years ago. He has had zero major issues with it and flys about 5 hours per week.

 

If you want to go for macho I'd go for a B407 (only burns 360 pounds per hour) :)

Edited by ChprPlt
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You have owned, maintained, and flown both machines. When it comes down to which one to operate, the person who has the greatest amount of valid information on this topic would be you :-)

 

I would love to have those sort of problems some day. You, Sir, have clearly done something right :-)

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Tom, try this:

NTSB Aviation Accident Query-- http://www.ntsb.gov/...uery/index.aspx

 

Model: R44

Injury Severity: Fatal

94 results, 200 total Fatalities.

 

Model: 480

Injury Severity: Fatal

1 result, 1 fatality (in flight medical emergency resulting in crash).

 

 

Peace of mind is priceless.

Edited by 280fxColorado
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280fx, peace of mind is indeed priceless, however the figures you quoted are not helpful unless the amount of 480s and R44s in total circulation are quoted alongside them, together with total hours flown by each. That way a correct accident / fatality ratio between the two can be worked out.

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Statistics can be skewed to paint any picture you'd like, but the numbers do not lie.

 

Not taking into account serious injuries, etc.

 

94 fatal accidents / approx 5400 R44s built = 1.7% X

200 fatalities / approx 5400 R44s built = 3.7% Y

 

1 fatal accident / approx 180 480s built = 0.05% X

1 fatality / approx 180 480s built = 0.05% Y

 

Again, the only fatality in an Enstrom 480 was due to an in flight medical emergency. The 480 (TH48) was originally designed as a military trainer to meet military crashworthiness specifications. As often stated, Enstrom helicopters (280/480) have flown a cumulative 4 million flight hours and counting without a catastrophic main rotor system failure.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I own and fly an Enstrom 480B, having trained in a Schweizer 300. I've only flown an R44 once, although I did a ton of reading about Enstrom, Robinson, the Bell Jet Ranger and the MD500 when I decided to buy a personal ship last year.

 

My considered take was that while the 44 is snappy (fun and responsive), it is significantly less safe for three reasons:

 

1) Less sturdy i.e. more likely to give you a bad outcome if you hit the ground hard.

2) Less forgiving in an emergency i.e. lower rotor inertia

3) More prone to catastrophic failure - I am very, very uncomfortable with the idea that I could lose my main rotor to mast bumping in heavy turbulence, or if I sneeze and accidentally push the controls over (kidding, kind of).

 

I am fully aware that there are lots and lots of professional pilots who fly the 44 and love it. As a non-professional pilot who loves flying but only logs a hundred hours a year, and who is lucky enough not to be too too troubled by the cost differential, I'm happy to have the extra safety margin.

 

PS: MileHi480B: I'm puzzled that you cruise at 80 with a passenger. I fly my ship solo a lot, usually at around 1500 to 2000 feet above sea level, and I generally cruise very comfortably at around 95 knots. If I have another person up front with me, I tend to cruise comfortably at around 100 to 105 knots. With the emphasis on comfortable. If I am in a hurry, I can easily push the above 10 knots, although the ship tends to get 'bouncy' in a way that I find uncomfortable. Are you more limited because of your altitude? I am generally flying at around 57 torque and 630ish TOT.

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