Robinson Helicopter Safety
On 30 October 2017, an amendment to Part 61 of the Civil Aviation Rules came into effect allowing for the Director to specify training requirements and other conditions in respect of Robinson Helicopters.
These requirements were formerly contained in court authorised conditions imposed by the Director under section 21 of the Civil Aviation Act 1990. However, the amendments to Part 61 mean that these conditions are now deemed to be requirements made under rule 61.365(a).
The Director’s requirements can be found in this CAA Notice:
During 2014 and early 2015, the CAA reviewed Robinson helicopter training in New Zealand, as recommended by the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC).
That included consultation with affected industry, comparison with other countries, and discussions with the Robinson Helicopter Company.
The review established a need to enhance existing training requirements. As a result, in mid-2015, the CAA formally consulted with industry on a range of proposed enhancements.
Due to the safety risks identified with Robinson pilot training by the FAA, TAIC, and the CAA’s own review, the CAA considered that there is enough evidence to conclude that the operation of Robinson helicopters endangered persons or property if pilots have not been properly trained in operation of the aircraft in certain conditions.
In the interest of safety, the Director of Civil Aviation used his independent powers under Section 21 of the Civil Aviation Act 1990 to impose conditions on pilots to ensure that they are properly trained.
The District Court initially authorised these conditions on 29 October 2015 and again in December 2016 and June 2017.
The Section 21 provision was initially used in this situation because it allowed for the conditions to be put in place swiftly, while providing for transitional arrangements.
All Robinson R22 and R44 pilots are required to undergo Robinson safety awareness training.
Key elements of the training include:
- A syllabus of R22/R44 ‘Ground’ and ‘in-flight training’ is prescribed.
- The training is carried out by CAA certificated Part 119 and 141 organisations, or operators who have an approved Robinson safety course.
- It is delivered by suitably approved and qualified A or B-cat instructors.
- A General Aviation examiner with Robinson safety awareness privileges must approve the A and B-cat instructors delivering the awareness training.
- The training is also required when new pilots are type rated.
- Ongoing training is required every 24 months.
- The pre-solo dual requirements on the R22 and R44 have been raised to 20 hours.
From 1 July 2016, student pilots were required to comply with the Director’s requirements.
From 1 July 2016, instructors giving Robinson safety awareness training were required to do so in accordance with the Director’s conditions.
Pilots engaged on ‘hire or reward’ operations had until 31 December 2016 to complete a CAA approved Robinson safety awareness course, or Robinson factory safety course.
Pilots not engaged on hire or reward operations had until 30 June 2017 to complete a CAA approved Robinson safety awareness course, or Robinson factory safety course.
All pilots are required to complete a CAA approved Robinson safety awareness course, or Robinson factory safety course, every 24 months.
From 1 July 2016, existing type rated R22 pilots whose normal 24-month safety awareness training fell due, were required to complete a CAA approved Robinson safety awareness course, or Robinson factory safety course, in accordance with the Director’s requirements.
From 1 July 2016, any pilot completing a new type rating on the R22 or R44 was required to comply with the Director’s requirements.