Schweizer 300 vs R44

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I've been an avid reader of this forum and notice that Philip is quite keen on the R44. I am
curious to read your thoughts on Schweitzer in comparison.

To me, the Schweitzer seems to be a more forgiving machine ie. 3 blade main rotor (no
mast bumping). I also like the traditional cyclic control in the Schweitzer compared to the
T-bar in the Robinson. Both helicopters can be configured to seat 4 and the Schweitzer
arguably has better visibility for the passengers in exchange for slightly less elbow room.
With the exception of Robinson's market domination are there valid reasons for choosing
Robinson over Schweitzer?

The mission profile is travel for 2-4 adults along the eastern seaboard for pleasure and
the potential for hopping across the US at some point on an extended vacation. Cost and
safety are primary consdierations. The majority of the flying will not encounter the
challenges of flying out west, hot and high etc.

When the time comes to move up, Schweitzer has a turbine model, the 333 and I am aware
that Robinson has a 5 seat turbine model R66 that will be in the offing. If money were no
object I would think the MD500 would win the contest hands down but that is an entirely
different animal.

Haven't heard to much about helicopter insurance but the Pathfinder or whatever Frank
Robinson's offering doesn't seem to offer hull replacement, only depreciated value, not
sure what Schweitzer owners do.
Look forward to hearing your thoughts...

-- J Glastris, August 31, 2008


I wasn't aware that Schweizer makes any four-seat piston-powered helicopters; their Web site says that their 300C model can be configured to seat 3. The 300CBi can only seat 2. The cruise speed of a Schweizer 300 is about 80 knots, compared to 115 knots in the R44. As a practical matter in typical headwinds that means that the Schweizer will be slower than a car. I haven't flown the Schweizer but folks who come into the Robinsons from the Schweizer say that the Robinsons are much more comfortable in cruising flight. The Schweizer has a rather extreme nose-down attitude at its (rather slow) maximum cruise speed.

Going low-G in a Schweizer isn't a totally safe idea, by the way. You can get "droop stop bumping". There is also dynamic resonance, which the two-blade helicopters don't suffer from.

The MD500 is not a favorite with passengers, by the way. The Jet Ranger is the low-end old school turbine helicopter that passengers like. The MD500 is a pilots' machine.

As far as insurance goes, you can buy domestic insurance for the R44 if you don't like Pathfinder's terms. The cost will be about the same as for any other helicopter of similar hull value.

The Schweizer was not designed for your mission. The R44 was.

-- Philip Greenspun, August 31, 2008

I want to be a witness to your piston driven Schweitzer 300 or CBi taking off with four people aboard. Can I assume at least one soul will be hanging from a skid? Seriously, the Schweitzer doesn't offer it's piston heli in a four place design. Their 300 and 300CBi don't come close in comparison the the R44 Robinson.

-- Mark Dalton, September 2, 2008

Must have been the 333 I saw since that definitely seats 4, I checked, you can get up to 3 in the 300C. Philip, you make a good point about the speed in a headwind. I still have the perception, perhaps wrongly so, that the Schweizer has more safety designed in and that Robinson is resistant to making some changes in the name of safety. Schweizer makes a point of talking about their safety features while Robinson seems quiet on the issue.

-- J Glastris, September 2, 2008

I have flown both. I trained in the 300CBI. It doesn't, nor has it ever been professed too, compete with an R44. It does blow the R22 out of the water though - which is its competitor. the rotor system inertia for Autoroation entry - loads of time. The R22 gives .65 of a second or your dead. I have had the low rotor RPM horn come on in flight (during my solo in the 300cbi) due to bad cockpit management and lack of experience. It was a non issue. incredibly forgiving. stability = loads. Now as for the resonance thing. Been in it twice. lift off and it stops in 2 seconds or less. I have even blown an autorotation landing with power recovery and pranged the left skid. No issue. The 300cbi is a flying tank. it is slower than an R22 by 15 knots. Who cares? if you are worried about 15 knots get an airplane! All heli's are low and slow by design. I left the R22 while training because the flight perameters were so tight that I couldn't unpucker. the schweizer is a training dream com true. Oh yeah - don't let anyone tell you the BS about R22's prepare you better for the real world or that if you can fly an R22 you can fly anything. Unless you become and instructor in R22' you will never fly one again commercially. same goes for the Schweizer. You will however fly ad 206 or an Astar with the cyclic on the floor like the 300's. Also, I can confidently say that after my 50 hrs of flight time -( minimal) I could easily survive a schweizer auto. I also know that any one thing goes wrong in the Robbie at my experience level, I am pushing up daisies. I choose the flying tank!

-- guy elford, December 17, 2008

I have approximately 90 hours flight time helicopter split pretty evenly between r44 and 300c. I've flown Mr. Greenspun's R44 Raven I's at ECAC and a Raven II down at Air Orlando Inc. I did my private in the 300c, and my commercial and cfi training in the R44. My instructor's emphasis on initial training in the 300 is that it helps develop the automatic response that is necessary during any emergency. It also helps develop muscle memory and coordination with all possible control inputs (including throttle). What I like about the R44 is the addition of hydraulics, a more adjustable cyclic for the small guys, throttle governor, and the feel of flying something that looks and feels and acts like an actual commercially employed helicopter (R44 and Jetranger are nearly the same length). I also really appreciate the low rpm warning horn during autos because it allows me to keep my eyes outside a little more. That nice long glide in the 44 during autos doesn't hurt either. The Schweizer can definitely take a beating, and I thought it was an excellent machine to train in for the PPL (hard landings, hover autos, dropping like a stone during simulated engine failures). For CPL and CFI training, I prefer the R44 due to the increased amount of skills necessary to fly it. It really makes you a better, more aware, more anticipatory pilot. Of course, you are the pilot, and you should only fly what you feel comfortable in.

-- Colin Burkardt, July 23, 2012