Maintenance Training The Robinson Way

A week-long course in helicopter maintenance training

The tour passed a section of the factory where V-belts were being worn in — each set of belts is run for five hours in the factory before being shipped. That’s why it’s critical to replace belts in sets and then only in the correct rotation direction. This kind of attention to detail was also demonstrated when Vargas showed us where the drag of every elastomeric bearing was tested — and if necessary run in — to ensure that there was less than 2 ½ inch-pounds of drag on each bearing. If the drag is above 2 ½ inch-pounds it results in vibration.

Here’s another one: shake the tail skid to check for loose bolts and elongated bolt holes at the forward inboard leg of the R-22 welded frame. It’s a common gripe.

The manuals

Vargas told the class that just because a part is not shown in the part book does not mean you can’t buy it. For instance, the complete fuselage is not listed, but RHC will sell one as long as it can verify who is buying it and that there’s a legitimate reason for the purchase.

The message that was often repeated was to always read instructions completely before beginning a task. And always call the factory customer support people when unsure of the procedural steps or at any other time there’s a question.

We were also told that the RHC IPB was not a maintenance reference book; and to always refer to the maintenance manual.

The blades

Main rotor blades were also discussed in some depth. Vargas said it’s possible to install a R-44 blade on a R-66 so make sure that both main rotor blades are the correct (and same) part number.

Older blades had a stainless-steel spar/leading edge; newer parts are aluminum. The bond between the skin and the spar is critical. Airworthiness directive (AD) 2011-12-10 requires a daily preflight inspection for exposed (bare metal) of the spar-to-skin joint area on the lower surface of some main rotor blades. This inspection can be signed off by the pilot. RHC provided each class member with a maintenance record appendix for the AD. The kit to aid technicians outline the area required by this inspection is available from RHC.

We were shown how to detect hard landings by measuring the distance from the floor to the tailskid on each model.

Shop time

Beginning the second day of class we met in the shop area after lunch. There, each team — the class was divided into three teams — worked its way through the following tasks on the main rotor assembly: removal and replacement of the hub bearings; swashplate tilting friction adjustment; and teeter friction and coning friction adjustments. Each team had a MR assembly to work on.

After that the following tasks on the drive train were worked through: upper and lower V-belt sheave alignment — there are four possible adjustments on the R-22 and three on the R-44. Others tasks included engine height adjustment; clutch shaft angle adjustment; and V-belt actuator adjustment time.

Through the week

Powerplant service information such as Lycoming engine service bulletin SB388C “Procedure to Determine Exhaust Valve and Guide Condition” was briefly discussed. Each class study book included reprints of applicable service information on engines and accessories. Lycoming and Rolls-Royce service class information is listed on the RHC web site under the “Courses” tab.

Other hands-on shop tasks included the tail rotor drive shaft run out check, a check of the tail rotor static balance; fan wheel remove and replace (R&R) and lubrication of the lower bearing; blade boot R&R including servicing; and a throttle correlation check. Even though the class stayed busy, shop talk pokes such as, “If you got time to lean, you got time to clean,” were heard from time to time.

Costs of education

Robinson classes are already full into the second half of 2013. Vargas and CEO Kurt Robinson say there’s been talk of adding additional courses in 2013. RHC classes are a bargain at $450; the one day R-66 refresher costs $250.

Every month in 2013, Lycoming offers its four-day Engine Service School in Williamsport, PA; cost $725. Lycoming also has a three-day disassembly/assembly class — scheduled immediately following the Service school — priced at $700.

The Rolls-Royce powerplant maintenance schools for the RR300 are conducted in Indianapolis, IN. The five-day course costs $2,000. Shops that opt to become Rolls-Royce service centers must attend an additional seven-day course costing $2,800. These classes are only offered on three dates in 2013.

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