History of the Robinson R-44 Helicopter

The Robinson R-44 has been called the best helicopter in the world for civilian and personal use and primary training purposes, and judging by its popularity and flight record, that’s probably true.


The R-44 was a logical evolution from the Robinson Helicopter Company’s highly successful R-22, which was a two passenger aircraft. The company determined that there was a sufficient demand for a four-seat version, and development of the R-44 was begun in 1986. The initial prototype was flown in the spring of 1992, and FAA certification was granted in 1992. The first purchase was delivered in 1993.

The Robinson R-44 has enjoyed high-popularity on the civilian market, and has also been used by police, military, news media, flight training, and other commercial operators.

In 2014, an R-44 earned the the world speed record for a piston-powered helicopter of 227 km/h. In 1997, pilot Jennifer Murray flew an R-44 on the first round-the-world flight in a helicopter made by a woman, accomplishing the feat in 97 days.

Robinson R-44 Specifications

The helicopter is classed as a light utility and training aircraft. It has dual flight controls, and is capable of carrying a pilot and three passengers, or a second pilot. It is powered by a Lycoming IO-540-AE1A5 flat, six-cylinder, fuel-injected engine producing 245 hp, rotating a two-blade main and tail rotor. It has a maximum speed of 150 mph, and a cruising speed of 130 mph. Maximum ceiling is 14,000 ft and range is approximately 350 mi. The R-44 has an empty weight of 1,450 lbs and a fully-loaded weight of 2,500 lbs, with a 800 lbs payload. The starting purchase price in 2011 was $425,000, with a total hourly operating cost of $190.

The Robinson R-44 has proven to be a very reliable and safe aircraft with a minimum of maintenance required for operations.

Robinson R-44 Versions

  • R-44 Astro – Original version, no longer in production.
  • R-44 Raven I – This was the Astro’s replacement, an upgrade featuring standard hydraulic controls and adjustable pedals, as well as some other improvements.
  • R-44 Raven II – Introduced the fuel-injected engine, a larger main rotor, aerodynamic tip caps, and optional fixed or pop-out floats for water operation.
  • R-44 Clipper I and II – Both versions come standard with utility floats, but fold-out floats are only available on the Clipper II.
  • R-44 Police – A Raven II specially outfitted for police work with TV and video cameras, searchlights, bubble doors, special comm gear, and many more features.
  • R-44 Newscopter – Billed as a digital-electronic news gathering version of a Raven II, comes with several types of camera systems and microwave transmission capability.
  • R-44 IFR – Fully equipped for IFR flight and training purposes.

The Robinson R-44 seems well-poised to remain one of the most versatile and useful helicopters within its price range available on the market today. DXL Solutions provides maintenance, repair, and overhaul services for the Robinson R-44, Robinson R-22, the UH1 Huey and UH-60 Blackhawk. Contact us for any needs.