February 26, 2014
By Ian J. Twombly
Helicopter flight schools will soon have a new aircraft option, as Enstrom Helicopters unveiled the TH180 trainer at Heli-Expo in Anaheim, Calif.
The TH180 has been designed exclusively for training, with such features as a piston engine, roomy cabin, energy-absorbing landing gear, and basic instrument panel. New CEO Tracy Biegler said safety is the top selling point. “This is going to be a very forgiving training aircraft,” he said.
In terms of volume, the industry’s top trainer is the Robinson R22, followed by the Sikorsky (née Schweizer) 300. But with Sikorsky having little interest in producing training helicopters, Biegler said the new TH180 will fit perfectly into its niche of a relatively high inertia three-bladed rotor system. He sees potential for hundreds of new helicopters a year.
Biegler said the aircraft’s Lycoming HIO-390 will likely burn right around 11 gallons an hour in training. With many parts not life-limited, he expects the hourly operating costs to be right around $175.
With an optional glass panel display, the basic helicopter should come in a bit less than $400,000. “It doesn’t make sense to tell everyone they need a glass cockpit,” he said.
First flight is expected in the summer and certification is planning for next year. The company already has two launch customers.
AOPA Pilot and Flight Training Editor Ian J. Twombly joined AOPA in 2003 and is an instrument flight instructor.
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