FEATURED MANUFACTURER - ROBIN AIRCRAFT
Category: GA Buyer Europe Magazine
Author: GA Buyer Europe
These wonderful aircraft, famous for 50 years in the light aircraft world, are being manufactured at the Robin factory at Darois, a few kms North of Dijon in the heart of Burgundy. Built of wood and grp composite they are amazingly durable. Many have been in service for over 40 years and many others have over 20,000 flying hours. They are known as the DR 400 series, and are immediately recognisable by their cranked “Jodel wing”. In aviation this is surely one of the best examples of “if it works - don’t change it” being one of the most efficient wings in the business, and this is with engines ranging in power from 120 hp to 200 hp.
The Darois factory is under the management of Daniel Triques, who has been Production Manager for over 20 years, and he knows a thing or two about these lovely aircraft. Over 40 years the DR400 has continually evolved of course, but their character remains the same - a pilot’s aircraft. This is why in France the Robin is the trainer seen at most airfields, and why so many private owners hold on to their Robins
Flying a Robin
Flying a Robin is a different experience:
• They are easy to climb into, from both sides, with the forward sliding canopy.
• once in, they are comfortable with a normal upright seating position - none of the semireclining position seen in many designs today.
• The visibility from the cockpit is superb, often described as the best in the business, no small windows, thick pillars, high panel, just clear high grade Perspex.
• Instrument panels are user friendly, hardly surprising after 40 years of continual refining to make the pilots job easier.
All this and we haven’t taken off yet.
• A Robin is equally at home off tarmac or grass, and that Jodel wing lifts them out of short strips which most other aircraft are not capable of.
• landing a DR 400 Robin is easy and predictable. In fact as an instructor said “every landing in a Robin should be a good one.”
• French aircraft invariably handle well, and the Robin with its stick is no exception, move the stick and something happens, precisely and safely.
• As for the view in flight, unsurpassed, which has to be a strong safety factor in a busy circuit, a great aid to navigation and well, just like sight seeing.
So what about an aircraft with a wood and Ceconite synthetic fabric covered wing. Does it have to be hangared every night? No it doesn’t, except perhaps in severe winter weather, when any aircraft is better off in a hangar. A full set of covers will look after your Robin outside if it doesn’t fly regularly.
The wing covering has to be renewed maybe after 20 years or so, but it’s not a mandatory event. An incident has been recorded of a hailstorm with very large hailstones which dented metal aircraft but just bounced off the fabric wings of the Robins alongside.
We said continual evolution. A new Robin, at first glance, looks similar to a 30 year old one, but under the skin, in the cabin, under the cowlings, and on the panel, every feature has been brought bang up to date:
You want a glass panel ?
With the Garmin G 500 certified on all DR 400’s, and the Aspen soon to be – yes, naturally!
You want an autopilot?
With the S-TEC 30 or 55 certified on all Robins - yes, naturally!
You want a leather interior , Bose type headset sockets, external power socket, your own colour scheme, VFR or IFR choice of a wide range of avionics, plasma tv (just joking), and last but not least, the choice between Lycoming engines from 120 - 200 hp and the Centurion diesel engine in the 135 hp & 155 hp Robin Ecoflyer? These options are all available.
Robin glider tugs are very well known in the gliding world, and being a tug is a hard life for an aircraft. Some Robin tugs are on their 3rd or 4th engine. What did we say about durability? Now it’s likely that diesel Robin tugs will make their appearance.
And just to make your mouth water, at the top of the Robin range is the DR 500 President, with a wide and spacious cabin, luxury long range tourer, 200 hp c/s prop, and a list of standard equipment too long to list here.
There are approved Robin Service centres in the UK and the rest of Europe, most with a long experience of looking after these remarkable aircraft, and CEAPR, the sister company of Robin Aircraft, at Darois gives full spares support.