Robinson vs Enstrom Which Helicopter Would You Pick?

Aug 29, 2018

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Robinson vs Enstrom Which Helicopter Would You Pick?

Robinson helicopter, Enstrom helicopter, which are you going to pick? Hello, I'm Kenny Keller, the creator of Helicopter Online Ground School and I've had the opportunity to fly both of these great aircraft over the years as a student. I've flown them as an instructor. I've been paid to fly both. I'm going to start with the 2 different rotor systems that they have. The Enstrom is a fully articulated rotor system and is called a high inertia rotor system, which I can tell you is very, very good. With the Robinson R44, it's a semi rigid system and depends on who you talk to, whether they call it a low inertia or a high inertia. Definitely more inertia than the R22, which is a good thing.

Robinson vs Enstrom Which Helicopter Would You Pick?

One of the biggest benefits of the Enstrom is the high inertia system, the autorotation is absolutely incredible. If you enter it nice, it's not a lot of work. It's very, very stable. The semi-rigid system on the R44, it's nice, it's smooth, it's up, it has some inertia. Autorotations in the R-44 pretty decent as well. Between the 2 which is going to be better? That's something that people are probably going to argue back and forth. Rotor system on the Enstrom I can tell you is pretty darn tough. I survived a helicopter ground resonance incident about 10 years ago in the Enstrom 480, basically the same rotor system. Even though the entire aircraft was destroyed, the rotor system remained intact.

The only thing that was left of the aircraft was the rotor system and the rotor blades pretty much unharmed. With the R44 and the semi-rigid, there is something they call low G mast bumping that can be a catastrophic event and the fully articulated system does not suffer from that low G mast bumping. One thing there that probably would make me lean a little more toward the fully articulated on the Enstrom. Now just in case you're thinking oh he's already going to favor the Enstrom, let's go to the R44 and talk about some of the good things about the R44 that you don't have with the Enstrom. The R44 is a 4-place helicopter. You can see 2 in the front and 2 in the back.

The Enstrom they call a 3-seater. To be quite honest, 3 reasonable side adults like 3 normal size guys, they get in there and they're pretty squished in there. To call the 3-place, yes it is a  place but it's going to work best with say 2 adults and a child in the middle, okay then you can call it a 3-seater. For the next plug for the Robinson, I personally think that the R44 as far as doing commercial operations is going to be the Enstrom hands down due to the fact that, let's use the example of helicopter rides. They have helicopter rides as a type of commercial thing that you want to do. You're going to be able to see 3 people, 3 pretty much normal sized people. You have a bigger engine, so you have more available power and for that operation most definitely.

Robinson vs Enstrom Which Helicopter Would You Pick?

I've done helicopter rides with the Enstrom, but again it's a 3-place, 2 and a half place. You have one person that might be a little on the heavier side. You're only going to be able to take up one person on that helicopter ride. For a couple of helicopters that are general vicinity of that price range of what somebody will be looking at for a personal aircraft or possibly doing some commercial stuff as far as helicopter rides, you're not going to be able to beat the R44. Hands down, and I know quite a few people out there doing like say crop dusting with R44. I'm sure there's probably some people doing it with the Enstrom, but I don't hear about it a lot. It's its more common as far as I know in the R44.

Next, we'll cover tail rotors for just a second. The Robinson is known for having a really good design on the tail rotor and a very effective tail rotor. I can also tell you that the tell tail rotor on the Enstrom also has pretty good reviews and they say that it's a really good system and a really good tail rotor as well. As far as flying the 2, I can't tell you that I noticed any big huge difference and I really would have no pic as far as which one would be the better. Next, I'd like to talk about the 2 as far as from a training environment with the fuel. With the Enstrom, I like that a lot because it has two 20-gallon tanks. There's a factory fuel stick that's right inside the door.

For training or every day flying, you go to fly to and go climbing the [PIC 00:04:32] seat and you just take that factory stick, put in the tank, you pull it out. You know exactly how much feel you have in the tanks. With the Robinson, you have a main and an aux tank. You can carry more fuel with you on board and it actually burns a little less per hour than the Enstrom. You have more range, but it's just not quite as easy in your head know exactly how much fuel is in there. You're kind of going by the gauge or by the fuel gauge. You can look in the tanks and check them. There's no factory stick to say exactly I know how much fuels in there and a little harder to figure when you have 2 tanks with different sizes.

Not a big deal, but as far as on a daily training basis, Enstrom makes a really, really easy to know exactly how much fuel you have in your tanks. Next, I want to talk about controls. Other big thing that people will talk about between the 2 aircraft, the Enstrom has a standard cyclic like most any helicopter has. Has 2 separate cyclics, one you can take out when you want to just be flying and not doing training, then you can put the other cyclic back in when you're going to be doing dual. This is one thing that we'll look at the Robinson in a minute that a lot of people have a complaint about, and I'm going to give you my thoughts on that.

This of course is nice. The other big thing is this does not have a governor. It does have a correlator, so you're operating the throttle, but it has a really good correlator. It only takes a little bit of finesse to operate that throttle so that's not really a big deal. On the Robinson, it's a governor and we'll talk more about that link it over there. As far as pedals is concerned, not a whole lot to really say there other than I think you have some more adjustment with the Enstrom over the Robinson. For me, no real big comparison there. The other thing is the cockpit on the Enstrom is definitely more roomy than the R44. The Enstrom gets an A plus on the room, that I can tell you.

 Robinson vs Enstrom Which Helicopter Would You Pick? 

The Enstrom can be a better choice for a heavier person and/or somebody who's really tall. Not saying you can't fly the Robinson, but just in general, that's one thing that might want a person to kind of lead over to the Enstrom as far as what would be right for them in between these 2 helicopters. Moving over to the Robinson, the one big thing here that everybody talks about is this handle right here is the cyclic. When you're flying on one side, you do this. The other person is flying, you just do that. When you first start flying these, it's really strange and you won't like it. To give Robinson credit, it works and once you get used to it, it's really not a big deal and it's not really different than anything else that you're going to fly.

I know I started and Schweizer's. When I switched to Robinson, I didn't like it and my instructor said, "Hey, it's still a helicopter. They all fly the same way. You'll get used to it. It will be no big deal." He was absolutely right. Once I got used to that, now does it bother me? Didn't bother me a bit. Then again we'll go to the collective. Does have a governor. A governor is nice because you can just turn the governor on and basically operate the collective up and down and you really don't have to do any throttle adjustment in normal situations. That to me, really isn't a big deal either. The governor is fine. The correlator is fine on the Enstrom. To me not really a big deal there.

Some people are intimidated if they learn on with the governor. They're intimidated when they get into an aircraft without one, but it doesn't take long to really get him the feel of what it takes to fly with the correlator. It's really not that bad. I guess the last big thing I would mention between the 2 would be maintenance and I'm not going to go into numbers. I can't really tell you. I have owned an Enstrom. Any helicopter is expensive hands down across the board. The maintenance wise, I would venture to say that maybe the Enstrom takes a little more than the Robinson, but again that's just a guess without ever actually owning an Robinson. It's hard for me to make an exact on that, but the Robinson does have a pretty good reputation now. That's one other place where I'll defend the Robinson.

There's a lot of Robinson haters out there and Robinson got a bad rap back in the beginning. I attended the Robinson school back in the late '90s, and they're very upfront and open about what went on with their helicopters in the beginning and their safety over the years has improved moved hundreds of times over. Robinson still has that stigma or that bad reputation from things that happened in the beginning and it's a completely different company now. The safety record is so much better now. I will say for Robinson as far as training goes, I think Robinson has the best training on the planet.

Yes, there's a special SFAR, but in turn because of the special SFARs, you're held to a higher standard and some of these things that you need to know for flying any helicopter, they really hit a lot harder with the SFAR 73. All in all that's not a bad thing. If you training the R22 or the R44, but particularly R22, when you move on to something else, you can jump into about any other aircraft and that's true, especially like say jumping in a jet ranger. If you grew up in the R22, you can jump in a hydraulic aircraft like the jet ranger. Anybody could fly that thing all day long. Enstrom, the big plug for that one, it's a tough bird man.

As an instructor over the years, have I done some stupid stuff and had some autos that went bad and smack the ground pretty hard? That I've done and I'm amazed at the beating that those aircraft can take. The R22 as well, when I was a brand new CFI, we had a couple of bad events in R22. When I was brand new with the owner of the company who was just a weekend warrior, he had a couple 100 hours and was just a private pilot, and I trusted him too much and auto went bad and we hit the ground. I have to say that the Robinson came out pretty well also considering the amount of force that was applied when we ended up on the runway. What would I pick, Robinson or Enstrom if I was going to buy one today? I would say what am I going to be doing with that aircraft.

If I was going to buy a helicopter to just have for fun and go out and fly and go where I want to go and enjoy myself and feels really really super safe, I would pick the Enstrom. Okay, with that being said, if I was buying a helicopter today between the 2 of them and I was going to use one that I wanted to have for training and use for commercial operations, I would have to say I would pick the R44. The question now is which one would you pick?

 Robinson vs Enstrom Which Helicopter Would You Pick? 

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