New Rolls-Royce Engine Aimed At Light Trainers
Rolls-Royce is developing a 300-shp. engine for the light civil helicopter trainer market. Scott Crislip, president of Rolls-Royce Helicopter and Small Gas Turbine Engines, said the RR300 would be a derivative of the Model 250, an engine that started out at 250 shp. but now covers the 420-715-shp. range. "There is a lot of interest, specifically in the training sector, because you don’t want to have to transition from piston to gas turbine," he said. "You want to be able to start out in turbines."
Enstrom and Schweizer already have turbine versions of their light trainers, the Enstrom 480B and Schweizer 333, both powered by the Model 250, so the most obvious target for the new engine is the Robinson R22/R44 trainer market.
Crislip said Rolls-Royce has had informal talks with Robinson about putting the RR300 on its helicopters, perhaps the most popular training helicopter in the world based on sales. Frank Robinson told Rotor & Wing that the company is doing preliminary design studies on several options, including use of the Rolls-Royce engine. However, Robinson also is looking at using a turbocharged avgas engine to get the added power, as well as a possible diesel engine, he said. The 300-shp. Rolls would allow the R44 to carry up to five people, but "nothing is cast in concrete at this time," Robinson said. "We won’t make a decision until we get the final specifications and cost figures." He said a decision on a turbine-powered Robinson "is still a number of years away."
That could dovetail neatly with Rolls-Royce’s plans, since the RR300 is just now going through concept studies and the internal review process for a launch, with an entry into service date in the 2007 or 2008, Crislip said.
"The market place is pretty attractive for this engine," he said, "but it is going to be very price sensitive." Rolls-Royce is looking for risk- and revenue-sharing partners for the engine, including partners who would be responsible for design of components. "We will not be the design authority. We’ll say, `Here is the specification requirement we need to get to,’ and let them design it to those specs."
China also is a potential market for the RR300, Crislip said. "China will probably develop into a pretty significant light civil turbo market. This engine will give us an opportunity to have a product to introduce into China."
The Jiangxi Hongdu Aviation Co. in Nanchang, Jiangxi, China recently won a licensing agreement to produce MD Helicopters products, most of which are powered by the Model 250.
Crislip said the addition of a full-authority digital engine controller (FADEC) to the RR300 engine "will be customer defined." The idea behind the engine "is that it will be for a light end training helicopter and they are not necessarily FADEC-equipped. However, that doesn’t preclude having FADEC." The engine also has a potential for turboprops as well, he said.
American Eurocopter NVG Courses Approved
American Eurocopter has won long-sought approval from the FAA to offer night-vision goggle training at its Grand Prairie, Texas facility.
The company’s vice president of flight operations and training, Del Livingston, said he received word from the FAA early last month that Eurocopter’s application to conduct the courses under FAR Part 141 had been approved. Previously, Bell Helicopter’s training academy had offered the only Part 141 NVG courses.
Eurocopter will offer initial and refresher NVG courses using ITT Night Vision’s latest generation AV4949 goggles. The first courses will be offered to EC120 and AS350 pilots, Livingston said. EC135 courses will be added later.
Livingston said he expects to conduct the first NVG courses this month.
Bell Emphasizing Full Autorotation Training
At a time when most instructors are opting out of full-touchdown autorotations, accurately noting that more touchdown autorotation accidents occur in training than from actual emergencies, Bell Helicopter’s training academy has fully embraced the technique.
Marty Wright, Bell’s chief flight instructor, said the most important part of training involves learning how to handle emergency procedures, "spending most of our time with people doing full-touchdown autorotations." Other critical emergency training includes hydraulics off and tail-rotor malfunctions.
While most autorotation accidents do occur during full-touchdown drills, Wright said his staff’s experience helps ensure safety during such drills. "I don’t hire anybody with less than 1,500 hr. instructional time under his belt," he said. His 16 instructors have a combined flight time of 190,000 hr. and combined instructional flight time of 64,000 hr. Autorotation training includes use of night-vision goggles, Wright said. "We do all of the same emergency training in NVGs as we do for standard daytime training." Once trained, pilots are fully operational in NVG use, "even under extreme conditions," he said. "The mindset we get across is that NVGs do not help you see through the weather, but they help you see the weather under night conditions so that you can stay out of it and continue to fly under VFR conditions," Wright said. "The NVG is only a VFR aid."