The Helicopteres Guimbal Cabri G2 two-seater continues to build a following with U.S customers, flight schools in particular, after receiving its FAA type certificate in February 2015. Precision Helicopters of Newberg, Ore., the authorized U.S dealer, reported 16 helicopters in country at the end of 2016 and plans to deliver at least another 12 this year. Worldwide, more than 190 G2s have been delivered through January since it received EASA certification in 2007. The G2 can be seen here at Booth 7123.
The G2 features all-composite monocoque construction, a three-blade fully-articulating main rotor and a fenestron-type tail rotor. The skids are attached with elastomeric mounts to reduce the propensity for ground resonance. Power comes from a naturally aspirated Lycoming O-360 derated to 145 hp with solid-state ignition and mounted with vibration isolators. Later this year, Guimbal plans to make a new 160-hp max power setting available for all legacy and newly built helicopters via a software update.
The G2’s avionics are built around an Electronic Pilot Management (EPM) system with similar architecture to Airbus’s VEMD (vehicle and engine multifunction display). A variety of optional avionics are available including ADS-B OUT/IN, moving map and the Aspen EFD 1000 primary flight display.
The cabin features a variety of automotive styling touches including leather seating, personal stowage, power outlets and iPad holders. The engineering work has been completed for optional air-conditioning, but customers have yet to order it, likely due to the associated weight/power penalty. Other available options include copilot adjustable pedals and pop-out floats. The latter notably do not impose a speed penalty.
Precision’s own flight training program currently operates four G2s, and it is adding two more early this year. The helicopter also is flown by schools in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland and Texas, and southern-California-based Revolution Aviation plans to take delivery of a G2 shortly. The helicopters are crated and shipped from Guimbal’s factory in Aix-en-Provence, France, and can be reassembled in six to eight man hours.
“When people buy the aircraft for their flight school we help them develop their training and checklists so they all are learning the same way, and they have the opportunity to learn from our experience,” said Precision CEO David Rath.
That experience is extensive. Precision’s highest-time ship has logged more than 1,000 hours, and the company has methodically tracked maintenance costs and events, which Rath said are much lower than comparable helicopters thanks to the G2’s design and so many of its components being certified for on-condition maintenance.
The Lycoming O-360-powered G2 burns an average of 10 gallons per hour, and Rath calculates that Precision’s average fuel and maintenance costs run about $100 per hour. “You only have a few [maintenance] items that are uncontrolled [or have specific time limits], the engine, the main rotor gearbox and the tailrotor gearbox. And then you have two calendar items, the seatbelts and the fuel bladder. Everything else is on-condition. You can plan to replace the muffler every 500 hours and the main belt every 1,500 hours. But that maintenance number includes everything—all the man hours for every 50-hour, 200-hour and 500-hour inspection and all the typical rotables,” Rath said.
At a base price of €330,000 ($355,460), Rath concedes that the G2 is “the most expensive two-seat piston you will ever buy. However, depending on how you maintain it, it will be the cheapest piston aircraft you will ever own or operate. And it’s a real helicopter. It has a real mast, a real blade system, a sophisticated instrumentation package. You’re not learning manifold pressure, you’re learning torque and power settings. It’s the littlest big helicopter you will ever fly.”
The G2’s EPM makes it easier for students to transition into Airbus turbine singles, Rath explained. Rather than relying on mechanical linkages, the EPM uses sensors to relay critical information on torque, engine temperature and fuel flow to a central computer to take the guessing game out of reading typical piston gauges. “You don’t think about manifold pressure—something you’ll never think about again in your commercial career—you think about percentage of power,” Rath said. He also stressed that the G2 has been designed for safety, and not one fatality or serious injury has taken place in a G2, to date.
Rath also claimed that the G2’s simple design, pleasant handling and straightforward avionics enable students to “solo quicker and get comfortable quicker. That means you can spend more time honing those skills with the instructor before the checkride. The aircraft is that comfortable to fly.”
Rath thinks the G2’s popularity is just in its early stages in the U.S. “In the last two months we’ve had more interest coming in on the Cabri than we’ve ever had in the last few years, not just because the Cabri has more notoriety, but because they know that Guimbal is now a successful manufacturer, it is not going away, and that they are supporting the helicopter well. We have yet to be in a situation with any of our operators in the United States that they have asked for a part AOG and we haven’t been able to ship to them overnight. We have a large spares stock that we keep here [in Oregon] in partnership with Guimbal.” Parts stocked include major items such as main- and tailrotor blades, tailrotor gearboxes and skid gear and cross tubes. “Guimbal is not run simply on making sales. It’s an engineering-driven company, and they’re always focused on service and finding solutions,” he said.