Robinson Helicopter is expected late this month to set the price and begin taking orders for a lighter, two-place R44 derivative with better high-altitude performance margins.
Developed “with the training market in mind,” the R44 Cadet also is “suitable for a wide variety of utilitarian applications,” said Robinson President Kurt Robinson.
The Cadet will be priced between the R22, which starts at $285,000, and the R44 Raven 1, which starts at $375,000. “It will give us another price entry point,” said the company head. “We’ve been getting quite a few requests for a helicopter like this—and some early offers of deposits.”
The Cadet will retain the basic airframe, rotor system and Lycoming O-540-F1B5 engine of the Raven I, the company said, but the rear seats will be removed and the aft compartment will be reconfigured for cargo.
Those changes will help pare down the maximum gross weight by 200 lb from the Raven I to 2,200 lb. Takeoff power is de-rated to 210 hp, and continuous power is de-rated to 185 hp (compared to 225 and 205 hp, respectively, for the Raven I). The new weight and power combination will give the Cadet better performance margins at high altitudes, said Robinson.
In addition, Robinson is using a new muffler design on the Cadet that reduces its flyover noise signature by more than 3 dB compared to the current Raven I. The president said he expects to complete FAA certification flight tests this month.
Robinson has no plans to end R22 production by focusing on the Cadet. The R22 remains popular as a personal aircraft and for particular missions, such as cattle wrangling. “It has a distinct market,” said the president. “It’s quick and nimble to fly.”
But the R22’s power-weight combination leaves little room to add equipment to the aircraft. A lighter R44 gives customers looking for more capability in a low-end helicopter a new option.