ROBINSON HELICOPTER COMPANY
29 November 2018
To: Robinson Dealers & Service Centers
In a recent newspaper article, the Robinson R44 helicopter was called out for its apparent high accident rate. Citing 2006–2016 accident statistics, the reporter blames the helicopter. NTSB accident records, however, dispute this. During the same time period, the NTSB determined that nearly 90% of the accidents occurring in the R44 were due to pilot error or bad judgment.*
Grouping accidents only by a model of aircraft implies the helicopter model is responsible for the accident. Accident statistics reveal that other factors such as pilot proficiency and the type of flying are far more relevant. To illustrate, so far this year there have been seven fatal helicopter accidents in the U.S. due to wire strikes. These occurred in various helicopter models, indicating other factors must be considered.
The article presented Robinson as slow to respond to R44 post-crash fires. Nothing could be further from the truth. While working on improvements and a redesign of the helicopter’s fuel system, Robinson issued Safety Notice 40, suggesting pilots and occupants wear Nomex flight apparel. This was intended to provide a measure of protection until a more permanent solution was developed. Following a multi-year design, testing, certification, and production program, Robinson was the first manufacturer to institute a crashworthy fuel system retrofit of its entire fleet.
At Robinson, we understand our helicopters are often used by low-time nonprofessional pilots or in high-risk applications. We therefore continually focus on improving safety. Thirty-five years ago, Robinson implemented a unique factory pilot safety course to review accidents and educate pilots about the necessity of flying within the aircraft’s operational limits. In recent years, Robinson also introduced the full throttle caution light and autopilot system, and we continue to regularly review and update our flight manuals with the latest safety tips and Robinson Safety Notices.
For all of us, flying is a passion. The best evidence we can provide regarding the safety of our aircraft is the thousands of pilots around the world that safely fly our aircraft every day.
Kurt Robinson President
This post was written by luke