Robinson Helicopter Safety Review

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.

Robinson Helicopter Fleet - Consultation Document (PDF)

Review of Submissions

Over 4500 copies of the consultation document were mailed to pilots, commercial operators, engineering firms, and training organisations.

The proposed changes sought to enhance New Zealand’s training requirements, and to align with FAA SFAR 73 Robinson R-22/R-44 Special Training and Experience Requirements, as recommended by TAIC.

Of the 40 responses received, the significant majority (80 per cent) support the proposed changes.

The CAA considered concerns raised by submitters in the final development of the new conditions.

Summary of Public Submissions Received on Robinson Helicopter Fleet Consultation (PDF)

New Conditions

All Robinson R22 and R44 pilots will be required to undergo Robinson safety awareness training, in line with the new CAA conditions.

Key elements of the training will include:

  • A new syllabus of R22/R44 ‘Ground’ and ‘in-flight training’ is prescribed.
  • The training will be completed by CAA certificated Part 119 and 141 organisations, or operators who have an approved Robinson safety course.
  • It will be 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 will be required when new pilots are type rated.
  • Ongoing training will be required every 24 months.
  • The pre-solo dual requirements on the R22 and R44 have been raised to 20 hours.

Conditions for Robinson R22 and R44 Helicopter Safety Awareness Training - full list as approved by the court 21 Jun 2016 (PDF 44 KB)

R22 DCA-R22-48 AIR 2140 - Limitations Section (PDF 22 KB)

R44 DCA-R44-34 AIR 2479 and AIR 2821 - Limitations Section (PDF 21 KB)

Implementation – Section 21 of the Civil Aviation Act 1990

Due to the safety risks identified with Robinson pilot training by both the FAA and TAIC, the CAA’s own review, and the recent spike in accidents in New Zealand, the CAA considers that there is enough evidence to conclude that the operation of Robinson helicopters may endanger persons or property if pilots have not been properly trained in operation of the aircraft in certain conditions.

The conditions align New Zealand with the FAA SFAR 73 Robinson R-22/R-44 Special Training and Experience Requirements.

In the interest of safety, the Director has therefore 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.

An application for a Warrant of Authority from the District Court was submitted in October 2015 and subsequently granted on 29 October 2015. This warrant authorises the Director to issue the conditions under Section 21. The conditions will take effect from 1 July 2016.

The Section 21 provision was used in this situation because it allowed for the conditions to be put in place swiftly, while still providing for transitional arrangements. The safety risk required action quicker than the full rule development process would allow, and an Emergency Rule would have been limited to 90 days.

Warrant of Authority to Impose Conditions (PDF 1.7 MB)

Transitional Arrangements

While the CAA considers this issue needs to be addressed as soon as possible, the practical reality is that it will take time for the industry to prepare and pilot training occurs.

From 1 July 2016 all new Robinson safety awareness training on the R22 and R44 fleet will be in accordance with the Director’s conditions imposed under Section 21 (‘the Director’s conditions’).

Part 119 and 141 certificated operators will be given until 30 June 2016 to have a suitable Robinson safety awareness course in place and approved by the CAA.

In the first part of 2016, the CAA will provide and fund examiner training with the Chief Instructor of Robinson Helicopters. In turn, these General Aviation examiners will be given approval to endorse suitably qualified A and B-cat instructors to deliver the ongoing requirements of the Robinson safety awareness training under their respective Part 119 or 141 approvals.

The CAA understands that industry will be promoting a Robinson factory safety course for pilots to attend in April 2016. For a place, and details on this course, contact Robinson Helicopters' agent in New Zealand, Heliflite Pacific Ltd, email: sylvia@heliflitepacific.com.

Implications for Pilots

From 1 July 2016, student pilots will be required to comply with the Director’s conditions.

From 1 July 2016, instructors giving Robinson safety awareness training will do so in accordance with the Director’s conditions.

Pilots engaged on ‘hire or reward’ operations are given 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 are given until 30 June 2017 to complete a CAA approved Robinson safety awareness course, or Robinson factory safety course.

Thereafter, 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 falls due, will be required to complete a CAA approved Robinson safety awareness course, or Robinson factory safety course, in accordance with the Director’s conditions.

From 1 July 2016, any pilot completing a new type rating on the R22 or R44 will be required to comply with the Director’s conditions.

An Advisory Circular is also under development to ensure that the requirements are transparent to pilots, and that all training is consistently delivered.