Robinson R66 maintenance course a first for Canada
The latest helicopter product from Robinson Helicopter Company (RHC) is the R66 Turbine, a model that is generating a lot of interest in the helicopter world.
Friday June 22nd 2012 - By Gary Watson
The latest helicopter product from Robinson Helicopter Company (RHC) is the R66 Turbine, a model that is generating a lot of interest in the helicopter world. Building on many of the popular design features and reliable components of the economical piston-engine R44, the R66 features a larger fuselage that accommodates a fifth seat and a spacious cargo compartment. Most notably, it is powered by a compact Rolls-Royce RR300 turbine engine, which not only delivers improved performance, but makes the aircraft very maintenance-friendly, as well.
RHC provides a five-day maintenance training course that covers all three of its helicopter models (the R22, R44 and R66) or a one-day R66 transition course for experienced Robinson mechanics. Unfortunately, this one-day R66 course does not meet the requirements of Transport Canada (TC), as TC views the R66 in a different light than its piston-powered siblings.
In Canada, there is no aircraft maintenance engineer (AME) type rating for R22/R44 helicopters: much like a Cessna 172, they are deemed simple aircraft and there is no type course required to sign out any maintenance work. Because the R66 is turbine-powered, however, TC considers it a complex aircraft requiring a type endorsement for the AME. This can only be achieved by a TC-approved maintenance course, something not offered by the factory. Understandably, this has raised concerns for Canadian operators awaiting their first deliveries of the R66.
Fortunately, this training dilemma has now been solved by an aviation program instructor at SAIT Polytechnic in Calgary, Alta.: helicopter maintenance instructor Allister Schreiber. Schreiber had extensive rotary-wing experience prior to becoming an instructor, and attended Robinson’s R22/R44 and R66 transition courses himself. He recalled, “I was approached by several companies who have ordered the R66 [with the request] to run a type course. I received approval from SAIT management and started to create a Transport Canada-approved course.”
As a TC approved training organization (ATO), SAIT has hosted a number of maintenance courses for Bell Helicopter’s light and medium helicopter models. In these cases, however, the institute provided the facilities, while the OEM provided the instructors and training aids. For the R66 course, the decision was made to create a stand-alone program with the support of the manufacturer, the industry and Transport Canada.
Creating a maintenance course is not a quick or easy task, and Schreiber has been working on this program for the past 18 months. He had to ensure not only that the curriculum was appropriate and met Transport Canada and SAIT’s ATO requirements, but also that it met the corporate requirements of SAIT itself.
“The course has just been approved by Transport Canada,” Schreiber told Vertical, noting that the first course is scheduled for Aug. 6 to 10. “It will be a full five-day program for the R66 course. Our training aids include the two R22s we have at SAIT, plus an R66 on hand for the course. The prerequisite is an AME license or foreign equivalent, or [to be] an apprentice who has graduated from basic training, and the student does not require prior R22/44 experience.”
The first courses will be taught at SAIT’s Art Smith Aerocentre Campus at the Calgary International Airport, but there are plans for a mobile course in the future. To register for the course, visitwww.sait.ca or call 1-403-284-SAIT. For more information about the course, call the Art Smith Aerocentre at 1-403-284-7018.
The first Canadian passenger jet (second in the world after the British), the Avro Canada Jetliner, was flown in1949. Despite its advanced design, it never saw production and was later sold for scrap. www.canadiangeographic.ca