The Robinson R22 helicopter is the most common model of rotary-wing aircraft on the Australian register and has been a popular choice for private operations, flying training and various types of aerial work activity. The R22 has a relatively good safety record compared with other light piston-engine helicopters in Australia based on activity levels.
The R22 is also the favoured type for aerial stock mustering operations - an uniquely Australian application that supports the local beef cattle industry. Despite its popularity in this type of work, little was known about the helicopter's suitability for the task. Like other helicopters on the Australian register, the R22 received its initial airworthiness certification in its country of manufacture (United States). The spectrum of manoeuvres conducted in aerial stock mustering did not form part of the flight profile used when the helicopter type received its certification.
In 2004 the ATSB commissioned AeroStructures, an Australian engineering company, to undertake a study of forces acting on an R22 engaged in aerial mustering operations. AeroStructures Report: [PDF: 750KB]
Their study offers some useful data on R22 flight profiles in aerial mustering operations, and compares these with the flight profiles used by Robinson Helicopter Company when the helicopter was initially certified.
The AeroStructures testing showed that mustering operations can involve large and sudden power changes that apply very high loads on the helicopter's drive system, and these may exceed the limits set during the certification process. Their report highlights the importance of handling technique, and especially good engine management.
|Type:||Research and Analysis Report|
|Author(s):||Lamshed, J., Livingstone, P., Hayes, P., Rider, C. and Locket, R.|
|Publication date:||2 October 2007|