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FAA clarifies low-G maneuver training in Robinson helicopters

The FAA has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that seeks to clear up conflicting safety and training requirements regarding low G maneuvers in Robinson R22 and R44 helicopters.

Photo by Mike Fizer.

The rule would revise the special federal aviation regulation (SFAR) that stipulates training and experience requirements for Robinson R22 and R44 helicopters, effectively removing the low-G dual flight instruction requirement to align with current airworthiness directives, aircraft placard requirements, and the limitations outlined in the pilot’s operating handbook.

The NPRM explains, “The inconsistency between the low G flight training requirement in SFAR No. 73 and the ADs’ prohibition on intentionally inducing low G flight has led to confusion regarding the actual requirements for flight training in R-22 and R-44 helicopters. The FAA proposes to resolve that discrepancy by removing the requirement in SFAR No. 73 to perform low G maneuvers during flight training. The FAA also proposes to revise certain language in this SFAR by updating terminology to make it consistent across FAA regulations and guidance.”

Following a series of fatal accidents, the FAA issued SFAR No. 73 to require training on the effects of low-G maneuvers and require proper recovery procedures to be performed during dual instruction flight training. SFAR No. 73 stipulates ground and flight training requirements, including low-G flight training.

However, the NPRM explained that “shortly after issuance of this SFAR, the FAA prohibited intentionally inducing low G flight in R-22 and R-44 helicopters. This prohibition was published on July 14, 1995, in ADs 95-11-09 (R-22) and 95-11-10 (R-44) because of the inherent risk in performing those maneuvers. That action was prompted by FAA analysis of the manufacturer’s data that indicated a low G cyclic pushover maneuver may result in mast-bumping on the Robinson model R-22 helicopters. If uncorrected, this condition could result in an in-flight main rotor separation or contact between the main rotor blades and the airframe of the helicopter and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter. The ADs require installation of placards in the helicopter and insertion of a prohibition against low G cyclic pushover maneuvers into the limitations section of the RFM.”

Since then, these ADs have conflicted with SFAR No.73. The rulemaking would effectively remove the low-G flight training requirements from paragraph 2(b) of SFAR No. 73. Specifically, the FAA proposes to remove paragraphs 2(b)(1)(ii)(D), 2(b)(2)(ii)(D), 2(b)(3)(iv), 2(b)(4)(iv), and 2(b)(5)(iii)(D) from the current regulation.

This NPRM is currently open for comment.

Niki Britton
eMedia Content Producer
eMedia Content Producer Niki Britton joined AOPA in 2021. She is a private pilot who enjoys flying her 1969 Cessna 182 and taking aerial photographs.
Topics: Advocacy, Aircraft Regulation, Helicopter

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