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IntSAR Capability Review – Robinson R44

The Robinson R44 is the intermediate rotary training aircraft for IntSAR.

First produced in 1992, the R44 is a 4 seat piston engine helicopter. Over 6000 have been made. Unlike its little sibling the R22, the R44 is capable of taking up to 3 passengers or cargo. It has a cruise speed of up to 109 knots.

Popular amongst Law enforcement agencies, Television news media, and Tour operators across the world, this aircraft has proven itself to be tough and reliable.

What makes the R44 unique from a training perspective is, that it allows student pilots to transition to, and gain experience in larger, heavier types of helicopters without having to take the significantly big step from a light trainer into a turbine powered helicopter which can be quite complex and difficult to fly.

The R44 is capable of having a cargo hook fitted to allow sling style loads of up to 360kg. This provides the ability to train pilots in the sometimes-tricky use of slinging loads in a simpler environment, thus enabling to take those skills to bigger, heavier, turbine aircraft which are used for very heavy sling load operations such as water buckets for bush or forest fire fighting.

The R44 can also be fitted with a Forward Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) style camera system as well as nite-sun style search lights. This enables pilots and observer crews to train using this type of equipment which is vital to search and rescue operations. Of course, this also means that any R44 fitted with such equipment can be deployed as an assistant aircraft to any large-scale search and rescue operation.

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