Guimbal Helicopteres of France has developed, certified and put into production a personal two-seat helicopter, the Cabri G2
NOT much choice. That’s the stark fact for anyone wanting their own personal two-seat helicopter. For many years, it was just the Robinson R22 and Schweizer (now Sikorsky) 3000. If you could splash the cash, then you might consider the bigger Enstrom Shark, Robinson R44 or even a Eurocopter EC120.
Now there is another, a beautifully designed and made two-seater, which meets all the latest safety standards. It’s the Guimbal Cabri G2, created by former Eurocopter engineer Bruno Guimbal.
The very first published flight test in the world of the Guimbal Cabri G2 was carried out by Dennis Kenyon, a contributor to LOOP and BLADES, P1’s sister magazines, and also a former world champion helicopter display pilot.
Some time after that first flight test (still viewable on LOOP TV), Dennis went back down to Guimbal’s base in the south of France to fly the very latest aircraft off the production line and catch up with Bruno. This is his report.
When I first flew the Cabri G2, I was impressed with the solid handling and the many high-tech and safety features. It has a three-blade rotor system, composite construction and no finite lifed components. Add in a glass cockpit, plasma ignition, a Fenestron tail rotor, a five-hour endurance plus a tough regime of EASA Part CS-27 certification. Couple all these deirable features with a sleek aerodynamic airframe, with a dedicated luggage compartment, and a tried and trusted Lycoming engine, and surely you have a winner?
The first deliveries have already been made to the launch dealer, Ixair based at Toussus le Noble. Ixair has a further three Cabris on order and it is advertising training rates a whisker under the local R22. Eurocopter has also signed up for a worthwhile batch for its schools. A UK dealer has been signed up and the Cabri G2 also certified for Australia – a big helicopter market.
Bruno Guimbal is a pretty rare animal. He possesses an alarming grasp of aerodynamic detail. He explained the positive disc control he had achieved with his design, particularly the time available to get the collective lever down following a power failure. It’s two seconds which is a whisker better than the venerable Bell JetRanger or the AS350 Squirrel, and almost one second better than the Twin Squirrel.
The cabin assembly is composite construction and is ready moulded for mounting on the skid gear. It includes fitment of the fuel tank and luggage compartment with attachment points for the seats, flying controls and instrument panel. The major item of engine, engine ancillaries and transmission are contained in a more conventional metal tube pylon.
After a light, wine-free lunch at Monsieur Guimbal‘s home, I was itching to fly the pretty Cabri. I strap myself in to the wide cabin with Chief Pilot, Phillipe Colonge.
The Cabri G2 employs a conventional cyclic control and at almost six feet tall, I found the cabin space more than comfortable with adequate headroom. The internal checks hardly tax the brain as apart from the usual seat belts, full & free control movement and instrument serviceability checks, the start sequence is nicely monitored by the EPM (economy pilot monitor).
Having checked the fuel pump, percentage throttle setting, rotor brake, mixture and plasma ignition all set, the starter motor is activated. The trusty Lycoming engine fires instantly and burbles lumpily for a few seconds before settling nicely at the selected idling rpm.
Then with the post-start checks completed, the clutch switch is engaged and locked allowing the main rotors to settle at idling rpm. Magneto and plasma rpm drop is checked and with the engine temperatures and pressures in the green, the automatic carb-heat operation is checked. The governor is selected to ON and with pre takeoff checks completed, the Cabri G2 is ready to go.
With a 15 knot crosswind. I manage to smoothly air taxi toward the duty runway and with a quick reminder to use my right foot, I ease the cyclic forward to 40kt and raise the collective for the 60kt climb-out. The Cabri has a highly variable fuel load – anything from 70 to 170 litres depending on the required duration. Thus the rate of climb varies significantly but today with just 8 degrees on the OAT, the VSI indicates a healthy 1500ft/min.
I spend a moment studying the informative fuel display: fuel quantity, instant and average fuel flow and remaining flight time. Phillipe tells me the system is particularly accurate. Bruno has overcome my reservations on the use of non fuel injected engines in helicopters. The electrically controlled automatic temperature control is a ‘fly & forget‘ fix.
The minimum rotor rpm for autorotation has a comforting 160rpm spread from the maximum 610 so I set up a standard split-needle descent at 60kt. The vibration level remained unchanged and apart from the split needles and an indicated 1500ft/min rate of descent, it was not obvious the Cabri was in autorotational freefall. Recovering to level flight was immediate using forward cyclic and some collective lever, made simple by the efficient governor.
Like the Robinson R22, the neat Cabri G2 will serve well as both trainer and private transport so I checked the weight situation. Gross mass is presently certified at 700kg. Typical weight prepared for service is 423kg so the useful load with full fuel of 170 litres becomes 154kg. However, that’s with a five hour endurance so the pilot has room to offset fuel against passenger load.
Guimbal‘s published figures quote a total of 190 euro per hour at 300 hours per year, reducing to 168 euro at 600 hours.. This figure also covers insurance, scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, parts consumption, fuel and oil.
Overall then, I was impressed with Bruno Guimbal‘s pretty helicopter. It has clean lines and modern design plus the latest EASA safety standards. I fully expect the Cabri G2 to be as familiar in hangars as the R22.
Guimbal Cabri G2
Max level speed 100kt
Cruise speed 90kt
Max range 380nm
Max endurance 5hr 40min
Max weight 700kg
Equipped empty weight 423kg
Fuel capacity 170 litres
Engine Lycoming O-360J2A producing 145shp
Main rotor 3-blade, 7.2m diameter
Tail rotor 7-blade 0.6m diameter
Price 250,000 euro
Hélicoptères Guimbal S.A. 1070 Rue du Lieutenant Parayre Aérodrome d’Aix-en-Provence 13290 Les Milles, France www.guimbal.com