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Robinson recently introduced optional impact-resistant windshields for R22, R44, and R66 helicopters to provide protection from bird strikes. Due to the lack of requirements governing small category helicopters, Robinson based the impact-resistant design on FAA requirements governing large transport category helicopters.
The new windshields are constructed of tough, energy-absorbing polycarbonate (standard windshields are made of acrylic) and installed with distinctive retention hardware. A special hard coating provides protection from scratching and weather degradation.
Tests were conducted at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas where a 2.2 pound (1 kilogram) bird, the FAA’s standard test weight, was used to simulate a bird strike. Tests demonstrate the R22’s windshield provides protection at impact speeds up to 90 knots, while the R44 and R66 windshields provide protection at impact speeds up to 100 knots.
The 2020 upgrade prices for the new windshields are $6,600 for the R22 and $6,800 for the R44 and R66. No special maintenance or inspections are required, although a cabin cover is recommended for prolonged outdoor exposure.
Robinson believes the new windshields will be particularly beneficial to pilots flying at low altitudes or in other environments where the risk of a bird strike is greater.