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R22 vs Rotorway Exec 162 (with ACIS)


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Hi all,

I was wondering if anyone out there can tell me how the R22 compares with the Rotorway Exec162 (with ACIS, i.e. supercharged motor)

Am doing some research to determine which aircraft is a better trainer from a performance point of view!

I know that the R22 has established itself as a good trainer and don't want to take that away from Robinson, also the Exec is a homebuild but that aside what is the truth?



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Exec costs less and no carb ice.


Oooohh....... I want one.



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Robinson = certified aircraft thumbup.gif


Rotorway = not certified thumbdown.gif


You can not compare these two on the same basis.


In addition to the stringent certification process, hundreds (thousands?) of Robinson pilots have shown us what NOT to do in the aircraft :o I for one appreciate their (sometimes tragic) contributions to our learning curve, and try not to let their sacrifices go unheeded. "Learn from other's mistakes, you'll never live long enough to make them all yourself!"


If you are training in a helicopter to own your own, and you're going to own a Rotorway, then that may be a consideration. If you are training in a helicopter to ultimately fly commercially and flight instruct then that will not be in a Rotorway. That means the Rotorway can not be described, nor compared as a trainer for anything other than training to fly a Rotorway.


Helicopters are not airplanes. IMHO, with their additional complexity I would not fly a non-certified, homebuilt (Experimental category) helicopter. I would consider an Experimental category fixed-wing, if I were confident of its constructor. YMMV

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I agree on all points with Justfly. A Rotorway is a nice way to while away several hundred hours of fulfilling do-it-yourself construction, and maybe OK for someone that likes wrenching more than flying. As the maintainer of the aircraft, I guarantee you will spend a lot more time working on a Rotorway than flying it.


I also have issues with the tail rotor drive system's basic concept (it's either belt- or chain-driven, I forget which).


If you must own a helicopter (must you?), find a 1500-1700 hour R22 (but keep in mind the 12 year rebuild limit, that can supercede the 2200 hour rebuild limit if it occurs first) and sleep a little safer knowing that it's a certificated aircraft.


When I went through the process of researching homebuilts a few years ago, I came across a guy with the last name of Curry that had a nice web site on the Rotorway. You might try Googling that name with some other keywords to get more perspective.



Dave Blevins

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The tail belt drive for the Exec is three belts in series... If I remember correctly... Each is turned 30 degrees to get a 90 degree change in output, and none are self-tensioning on the Exec I looked at. Seems like three times as many chances for failure to me.

Notice that most used Rotorway Execs are for sale with less than 300 hours on them. That should be a reliable indicator of problem potential down the road.

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....and there are very few Execs with more than 400 hours on them, period. To be honest, the decision is, do you want to fly, or do you want to tinker. Finally if you are looking to train in the helicopter, there are R22 instructors behind every bush. Finding someone to train you in an Exec will be a bit of a challenge.

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Below is a post I made on a the Rotorway geared forum run by Ron Curry. It's address is Rotorwayownersgroup.com.


I built a turbine converted Rotorway and loved it. I flew from Charlotte NC to the middle of Ohio. On the way back I lost a gearbox over the top of the biggest mountain in Virginia. I autoed into a ladys backyard at the foot of the mountain and managed to set the ship down with no damage. (Very lucky)


Long story.....I have a story I wrote about that as well if anyone would like to read it.....


But not soon after that I bought a R22 out west and flew it back to my house where it now resides. I recently finished my commercial and I am going to get my CFI in the future. I just fly for fun, so I am in no big hurry.


I agree with the prior posts about the difference between certified and non-certified.


Here is my take on building an experimental from a guy who did it......



Time and time again I am asked by people of my experience with building my own ship. Requests for information come a few times a month and ask if I would share my experiences with the Rotorway and the Jet Exec. A lot of the guys want to know if the Rotorway is a “good ship” and so on. They really don’t know how hard this question is to answer….. After spending an hour today discussing this exact topic with a gentlemen who contacted me through ROG, I thought I would try to put down in words the main points of my advice to him….


Before any of you guys shoot me down in flames….This is truly a post about why to build an experimental… It is not intended to scare people off. If you are scared off then an experimental may not be for you anyway.


I am not trying to insult anyone and I am only trying to share MY experience. Remember that this is only on man’s opinion and you will find those that agree and disagree with my opinions…..


Now that that is out of the way…..



I’ll tackle the biggest issue first….MONEY


In retrospect I think I had many misconceptions about what building a helicopter, or any aircraft, was all about. I based my decision to build primarily on money. I thought that the only way I could fly a helicopter affordably was to build it myself and maintain it myself. While on the surface this may seem to be the case, it could not be further from the truth….


I’ll use a standard Rotorway 162f as a good starting example…


Most builders will invest about 75,000 to 80,000 in a nice build. You see these ships for sale from time to time with 100-150 hrs on them and they typically bring an average of 50,000 on the used market. This loss of 30,000 equates to around $300 per hour flight time plus gas. Not the cheapest way to go.


The single biggest thing I underestimated was the personal cost and time investment my ship would require. I spent around 1000 hrs constructing and probably twice that researching about the build. As a relatively young man (33 yrs old), and a young family, I spent many hours working on a very self indulgent project. AND when I was not working on it, I was thinking about it. This time took me away from my family and drove a wedge between my wife and myself. She began to resent the helicopter, the helicopter books, and even this forum for taking up my time.


There is a very delicate balance between working on a project and something becoming an obsession. Rightfully so, you will want to learn as much about these helicopters as possible considering that your life will be hanging from your workmanship. I know several other builders and all have experienced similar situations….



The next issue I will tackle is safety…..


This is the million dollar question with no easy answer. I will start out by saying all in all the Rotorway is a safe and reliable aircraft when constructed and maintained properly. BUT in any activity (including crossing the street) there is some element of risk. I would without hesitation go fly in a Rotorway. I would however do it differently then I do in a certified ship. As many have stated before, the cost difference between the Rotorway and a certified is not merely the assembly. The parts used in construction of a Rotorway and the engineering behind those parts, are not at the same level of quality as they are in the certified world.


Does this mean that a Rotorway is unsafe….. I don’t think so. I think it just means you need to treat it differently. You make efforts to minimize your risk. In certified aircraft, the sheer number of flight hours flown by the fleet and the varying uses of these aircraft, mean that likely modes of failure are found and addressed over time. When there are accidents, they are thoroughly investigated and findings are posted and action is taken.


I think I saw the number of flight hours of the R22 is 1,200,000 per year…. Or take the Hughes/Schweitzer 300, a design that has been around for 30 plus years with millions of flight hours as well. Put that in perspective to the Rotorway and say the MAYBE there are 500 actively flying and on average less then 100 hours per year and you begin to understand why the modes of failure are less known. Not only that, when accidents do happen, they are not treated with the same priority as in the certified world. Often, little is done to find the root cause and many times this information is not made available publicly.


So what does all this mean from a safety perspective???


It means that you never really know what may fail on a fleet of ships all assembled to different levels and tolerances. Some have different driveline components and others are pushed to different limits. Not only that, most of these machines are flown for a very small envelope of time……So judge your risk and fly where you are comfortable.



Now lets talk performance……


I have found that most people exaggerate the performance of their Rotorways. Airspeed indicators seem to vary wildly in accuracy. Truth be told, it seems most distance flying is on average 75-80MPH. Yea….I know…..You had it up to 115….. but ask the guys you take trips in the ships and look at their average GPS speeds. Another aspect is that the Rotorway tends to hop more as you get into the hooks joint at higher speeds.


If you are a heavier guy, 200+, the Rotorway’s performance will be marginal with two on board. Add to this a high density altitude and you will be walking an even finer line. That is not to say this is not true of all helos, but I think it is even more so in the Rotorway. You won’t be flying like T.C. on Magnum PI to say the least.





Maintenance, how much is there and how often……


This seems to vary with builders as well, but it is fair to say there is a considerable amount of time you will devote to it. Some say on the order of one hour wrench turning to one hour flying. I think even if you are not doing “maintenance” you will often be looking over things just to be sure.



So what about the Jet Exec?????


It is true that the JEX far out performs the standard 162f. From my experience, it seems to take a lot less general maintenance as well. BUT and this is a BIG “but”…. the amount of total fleet hours is even smaller then the Rotorway. I would guess it is under 1000 total flight hours.


What does that mean? It means until the fleet gets some more time on it we will not know. So it too should be handled very carefully. And remember you ARE a test pilot whether you like it or not.



What is it like to own a Rotorway?.....


I would classify the Rotorway as a recreational vehicle. You will find most use it like you would a motorcycle. You fly only when the weather is nice, you take short trips while carrying very little and generally return home at the end of the day. You will spend a good amount of time working on it and if you stray far from home, you make back-up plans “just in case”.




SO with all this negative stuff, who should build a Rotorway?


I really don’t think what I have written is negative…. It is just real…..not good and not bad…


If you just want to fly a helicopter period, I don’t think an experimental is for you.


Give me some reasons for building your own helicopter….


You HAVE THE EXTRA TIME to devote to such a project and are in no big hurry to fly

You enjoy building things and take great pride in accomplishing a goal.

You enjoy learning new skills and expanding your knowledge

You enjoy meeting people with a common interest and also like helping others

You have the confidence in your abilities but also know your own limits



Those are just a few good reasons that I can think of…..but notice that none of them have anything to do with flying or money.


In a perfect world I would have a R22 AND a Rotorway. Both serve two different outlets for my energies and I do miss getting to turn wrenches as much as I used to. Who said “maintenance” was unenjoyable?? Not me! To the contrary, I got great reward from my work on the ship and it was never “work”.


I learned more then I could ever imagine from my build, not only about helicopters but also about myself. I have met and continue to meet some of the nicest people I have ever known. I have been able to help others and share my experiences, as I have done here, and continue to be rewarded every day. If I were to do it all over again, I am not sure which road I would choose…..but I do know one thing…I would do it for a TOTALLY different reason now.


Let the Flames begin!!!



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Thanks for all the feed back on my post! :o

Based on the responses I've recieved I have a lot to think about.

In South Africa if the aircraft is build by an AMO/AME it can be approved for commercial use and in fact there is one that has been build on this basis.

Naturally the aircraft then automatically falls under legislation that stipulates properly controlled service/ maintenance parameters as any certified commercial aircraft would, but at the fraction of the cost.

I will also say that we are flying from an aerodrome which is 5327 ft above sea level and would have to have the supercharger installed if we were to operate the Exec here.

I believe that with the supercharger installed the useful load would be 525 lbs with a gross weight of 1500 lbs which in fact is more than the "robbie"!

Considering all these factors, is the Exec still a "bad" buy for a flight school?

I've been advised on acquiring a R22 Beta II as a better alternative and this is the next thing I need to investigate.


Any responses will be greatly appreciated!


Happy flying!

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Based on your density altitude alone, I'd go with the R22. Not to mention the fact that the RW will not do as well under the continued abuses of a flight school situation.


I fly The Beta II, and with two 200 pounders and 1/2 fuel, I've never run out of power even while flying at 90+ F temps. The exec will be laboring very hard in those conditions.


Now, if you want a 4-place, you might want to check out the Hummingbird. It's basically a Sikorsky in kit form. Stay tuned for my PIREP coming soon, as I did some extensive demo flying of one at Sun N' Fun earlier this month. It's truly a great ship.




But, for a 2-place trainer, the Robby is hard to beat.

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