Building Your Rotorway Helicopter
Rotorway kits are one of the most complete kits you can buy; everything is included in the kit except for radio and paint. All small parts are shrink wrapped on cards and included in the first part of the kit are the build manuals, plans and a set of DVD’s that take you through the build. Many of the larger parts are built up at Rotorways Arizona factory; this includes the tail boom, the main shaft and swash plate assembly and the engine which has been test run. The 150 hp engine its self has many safety features including dual ignition, dual fuel pumps and a FADEC engine monitoring system. The main airframe is made of 4130 Chrome Moly steel and no further welding is required through out the entire kit.
Buying the kit.
The kit comes in 8 large crates but to help spread the payment it is available in 4 groups. This works out at the same price as buying it all in one go and is the chosen route of most builders. The assembly time is a truthful 800 to 900 hours; it is made for the amateur to build and is reasonably straight forward.
Advice & guidance
But do not get worried and think you are on your own, if you have a problem or just want some advice or guidance, give Southern Helicopters a call and we will help you out. The paperwork can be a nightmare for first time builders but we will supply all build work sheets, deal with the CAA for a permit issue and fill out and supply all the forms that you will require.
During the build.
As the Rotorway is built under the CAA permit to fly rules your local CAA surveyor will inspect your workshop at an early stage. They are not looking for expensive engineering facilities but only that your build area is clean bright and dry. Many people dread a visit by the CAA but we have found that if you work within their rules they will offer help and support in all areas. The CAA’s main concern is safety and with their many years of experience they will pick up on what you consider to be an insignificant error which may turn into a major problem. Most of the CAA surveyors are qualified aircraft engineers and full understand engineering practices, which is a very reassuring fact.
During the build you will need up to 5 inspections carried out by Southern Helicopters. About half way through the build it is a good time to think about any extras that you may require. This can vary from different makes of radio or transponder to strobe lights and GPS. All of the standard wiring comes as ready made looms so it is a case of just plugging in. Extras will need wiring but help with this is available if required.
The build is complete.
Even when your helicopter stands outside your workshop, fully painted and ready for flight there are a few things still to do. The helicopter can be run for the very first time and this is an exciting stage for every builder. After months of putting hundreds of parts together it is a wonderful surprise to see and hear your own helicopter burst into life. Sitting in the cockpit you watch all the gauges as everything warms up while engineers look over the machine for signs of leaks etc. Now comes the worst bit as other people are called in to check your pride and joy. The aircraft will need its final sign off by Southern Helicopters, the radio’s must be checked by an avionics engineer, all worksheets must be completed, log book entries done and all modifications checked and approved. The aircraft will need to be weighed and the centre of gravity checked. Then all the paperwork is sent off to the CAA at Gatwick and before long a visit by your CAA surveyor will take place. He will check that all the paperwork is in order and will then give your gleaming new helicopter a final look over. If all is well he will give you a Permit to Test valid for two months. The helicopter should be ground run for an hour or so to help bed in the belts. This may sound simple and you can run the helicopter yourself but expert help should be available during this time to check all areas of your new machine and to make sure belts are tightened as required.
By now your helicopter will have a small amount of running time and the main blades will have been electronically balanced up to the hovering stage. Hovering and test flying will come next and this is done by a CAA approved test pilot. About 4 hours of hovering is required in short stages to run in the belts and check all systems. The blades will also be dynamically balanced in the hover and in forward flight during this time. Now comes the last stage, the test flight. This is done by the test pilot and one of us as observer to fill out the test report in flight. All areas of flight are checked, this includes a maximum power climb for three minutes, steep turns, checks on cruise and maximum airspeed and general handling plus several autorotations. This is done by throttling back the engine to make sure the helicopter will glide down safely. When all is complete it’s a case of flying back to base to tell the owner how great his machine fly’s. Here the test report is completed and signed by the test pilot and sent off to the CAA. Within a few days your CAA surveyor will then recommend the issue of a Permit to Fly and once this is in your hands your helicopter can legally fly.