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HELITRAK DEVELOPS SAFETY ENHANCEMENTS FOR R22 & R44


HeliTrak (helitrak.com) has developed two specialty products to increase flight safety and ease of operations in Robinson Helicopters: the Collective Pull Down (CPD), and the HeliTrak R44 Autopilot.


The CPD is an FAA-approved aftermarket safety device that initiates the lowering of collective in the event of an engine or drive- system failure. By doing so, the CPD maximizes the Robinson helicopter’s ability to auto-rotate safely to ground. It doesn’t count on the pilot noticing that there’s a problem and inadvertently dissipating remaining rotor power before lowering the collective to land safely.


According to HeliTrak, nearly one-third of all helicopter accidents involve autorotation events, with low-rotor RPM during autorotation entry accounting for up to 15 percent of all fatal helicopter accidents. Helitrak cites data from the Flight Safety Foundation that pilots take 2-3 seconds on average to recognize that an engine problem requiring an auto-rotation response is occurring, and then another 4-6 seconds to react; losing precious rotation power in the interim. The CPD bridges this gap by lowering the collective as soon as an engine issue occurs; thus, it maximizes available power for a safe auto-rotated landing.


Here’s how it works: “The CPD monitors the low rotor warning annunciator that is in the Robinson Helicopter’s cockpit,” said Chris Nehls, president of HeliTrak. “When we see that annunciator triggered at 97 percent rotor RPM, then we pull down. Once the CPD is triggered, then it will start pulling down at a constant force for three seconds. Then it gradually releases that force over a period of half a second to avoid pilot-induced oscillation on the collective.”


The new HeliTrak R44 Autopilot is a straightforward approach to equipping the R44 with this flight control capability. HeliTrak originally designed it for the R22, but that smaller helicopter’s sensitivity to payload changes convinced HeliTrak to offer it for the larger, more powerful R44 instead.


“The feedback we’ve received from customers leading up to the introduction of the autopilot is to keep it simple,” said Nehls. “So we’re including a heading-hold function, a roll-control function so that they can initiate turns, altitude-hold, and speed-hold functions are also included. We’ll come up with upgrades in the future that will connect to GPS navigators, but the overwhelming response from R44 operators has been keep it simple for now.”


HeliTrak R44 autopilot system 78 Nov/Dec 2018


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