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A little cold water on the 22/300 debate


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OK, I'm a curious kind of guy, and all this back and forth about Robinsons versus Schweizers has been getting to me. To hear some people talk, you would wonder why anyone dares get into either of them. So figuring that experience is something of a cure to ignorance I did back to back flights today in a 300C Instrument trainer and an R22 instrument trainer. The flight in the 300C was a pure VFR intro flight with VR poster southernweyr who just happens to do instruction in the Schweizer out of Stellar Airpark (P19) in Chandler. The R22 flight was an IFR training flight out of CHD with Quantum Helicopter, with whom I am enrolled in IFR at the moment, and is only significant to this post in that I got to hop from one helicopter to the other. First on the schedule was a little ground time to go over some of the differences in terms of performance numbers, weight & balance, and a discussion of what the plan for the day was. Southernweyr has time in both the R22 and the 300 so he already knew what things were going to be different to me, which helps considerably when you're trying out a new aircraft. We then went into the hanger and did a thorough preflight. Difference number one - the 300 oozes lots of grease. It makes sense when you think about it, what with it being a fully articulated rotor head with lots of hinges and zirc fittings. You want a hand rag if you're like me and believe in touching everything you're inspecting... The only surprise to me was that the 300 looks smaller overall to my eye that the R22, even thought it's a heavier helicopter. Must be the tailboom. So after rolling it out to the taxiway we get in and go through the startup checklist. Starting is routine although engaging the rotor is a more manual process that with the Robbie. No big deal, and I understand the CBi's have improved on that. Doing the mag check at 2500 rpm & 15" MAP was different. While it's not really light on the skids at that point it is at the point where you can feel control inputs trying to do things. After a demo lift off and set down I got my turn, and I really didn't notice any difference from the R22. The controls have a little heavier feel and I think they took a little more movement than with the Robbie but it was completely natural in that I didn't need to think about it at all. Setting down was easy since it sits higher than the R22 so the skids touched down a little earlier than I expected. The way the oleos go 'ka-thump' and the nose drops when you get weight on the skids is somewhat disconcerting though.

We took off out of Stellar and headed over to Chandler for some work in the "Charlie" pattern. This worked out really well for me for comparisons sake since I'm comfortable with CHD's procedures so I could concentrate on flying. We did a couple of normal approaches and takeoffs, some steep approaches and high performance takeoffs and some straight in autos with power recovery.

So what differences did I notice? Well, the standard speeds were lower. Our pattern speed was 65 with a climb speed of 50 as opposed to 75 and 60 in the R22. Since there an R22 in the pattern with us for a while we pushed the speed up to 70 in the pattern to keep the spacing. No biggie. Autos are a bit different - the 300 drops like a rock! You have a much more nose down attitude in the auto and enough of a higher rate of descent to get your attention. The flare and recovery gave me a little trouble due to the timing, but it's just different, not bad. I did notice the tail rotor doesn't seem to be as effective as with the R22, but again, not a problem, just different. We then headed back to P19 so I could get to my next lesson with a whopping 1.3 hours of 300 time.

Summary?

The 300 is a bit slower and heavier than the R22, but so what.

The R22 sits lower so your hovering and landing picture is a little different.

I know there's more room the the 300, but I honestly didn't notice it.

The controls feel different but not uncomfortably so.

The only time I noticed the difference in cyclics is in getting in and out of the helicopters. Never thought about it at all in flight.

The 300 is smoother in the wind, although the tailrotor gives me the feeling that on a windy day I'd rather be in an R22 for controllability.

Autorotations didn't seem any easier or more difficult than with the R22.

I enjoyed the flight, and I certainly plan to get some more time in the 300, but I'm forced to conclude the whole "tastes great! / Less filling!" argument about the two helicopters are a tempest in a teapot.

R_22.jpg

300C.JPG

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[sounds like I'd get the mehanic to check out those front Oleo's. It may be that a change in temperature means the nitrogen content needs to be topped off. You may well feel the skids move a small amount (as if they were splaying outward) when the weight is put on them - that is normal - but having the whole nose tip forward? That doesn't sound right at all.

 

FFF :(

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Good comparison, I didn't know Stellar did training in the 300. I actually saw you doing the charlie patterns haha. I had my private checkride this morning at Quantum. Good ole 87Kilo =)

Congrats! Of course now we'll be fighting over the instrument ships...

 

 

And Southernweyr, thank you! I had a blast...

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I have to agree with everything that pogue said about the two helis. i got the chance to fly them both almost back to back in the same day and concluded the same things. I honestly liked the feel of the r22 more, it felt more agile and quicker, faster and climbed better, autoed more natural and so on. but my opinion was probably warped cause I learned in a robbie before trying out the three hundred. but it felt like a rock solid helicoper and I could see how it would be easier for someone to learn in, but after the first ten or twenty hours, i think the robbie is alot more fun. robbie = a tight race car. 300 = a big semi truck, thats how it felt to me...

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Thanks for the post Pogue, that kind of thing is very helpful, and is really a good thing for new students to read.

 

In the end, we're all learning to fly helicopters, not a specific model, and I think that a lot of people are surprised at how easy it is to move from one to the other. Other than startup/shutdown, and different equipment and speeds, they all fly very similar.

 

Fly safe!

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