I attended a Helicopter Safety meeting in St. Louis on Saturday. Tim Tucker was one of the presenters. He actually gave 2 sessions, both of which were very good as usual for Tim. Afterward he opened up to questions about Robinson, or any other subject.
I inquired about the HeliHub brief on the registration of an R44 in the S/N 3,000 series, and it was rumored to be a diesel.
He was very open and candid, Mr. Tucker said "yes, Robinson is working on a Diesel R44". With a smile, he then stated "but, that is not the ship registered with the new S/N series I referred to". They are working on certification of a new "R44 Cadet". This is a Raven 1 with the back 2 seats removed, a lowered gross weight, and lower VNE. This unit is aimed at the training market. Robinson is striving for a higher TBO on this machine due to the lower stress on all the dynamic components. The dynamics are unchanged from the Raven 1. Robinson is trying to introduce a product that will fit into a lower cost and higher safety margin trainer.
This just may be a winner. Imagine the autorotation characteristics of a 2 place R44, and the ability to have students and instructors that may be above the weight limit of the R22 restriction, and the stability as an IFR trainer?
Time will tell?