Our fleet normally comprises four or five Robin DR400 aircraft. The DR400 is an extremely popular training aircraft in Europe but less common in the UK where it is perceived more as a luxury private aircraft. Nevertheless it has precisely the right attributes for a trainer, with the added bonus of being much more enjoyable to fly than the more obvious Cessnas and Pipers. Comparisons have been made between BMWs and Ford Cortinas…
Particularly striking is the commanding view that the DR400 offers the pilot, greatly aiding situational awareness during training, facilitating navigation and enhancing the pleasure of its occupants at all times.
The principal difference between individual aircraft in our fleet is engine size and so performance and load-carrying capability, but they share the same airframe so there is excellent interchangeability between them in use. Logistically, this is also a huge benefit as most components are the same across the range. Combined with our massive spare parts holding and the quality of the aircraft, this has proved a significant contributor to our impressive reliability record.
G-OYIO Robin DR400/120 Dauphin 2+2
Imported by us from Belgium in 2007, IO has been a mainstay of our fleet for many years, epitomising the superb flying qualities of the DR400. Offering a brisk 105kts on a frugal 24 litres per hour, IO is effectively a 3-seater, with the rear seat limited to 120kg.
IO also makes an excellent economical tourer and has travelled far and wide in our ownership – including a voyage to Africa and crossing the Alps (seen here at Innsbruck, en route to Venice in 2017).
G-CEKO Robin DR400/100 Cadet
KO was imported from Holland by us in 2008. Designed specifically for training, the Cadet is the two-seat version of the DR400. Apart from the absence of a rear seat and third row of windows, KO is virtually identical to IO and OS (with the same engine, performance and handling) so we use the three aircraft interchangeably. Alhough not as perfectly suited to long range touring as our other aircraft, KO has nevertheless flown as far afield as Morocco
G-LEOS Robin DR400/120 Dauphin 2+2
Another mainstay of our training fleet, OS has near-identical characteristics to G-OYIO and is in spectacularly beautiful condition – without doubt one of the finest DR400s anywhere. OS also benefits from additional avionics for instrument flight and an auxiliary fuel tank conferring massive range. Seen here with a proud student who has just landed from his first solo!
G-CCZX Robin DR400/180 Regent
Outwardly similar to IO and OS, ZX is in reality a very different animal. With a larger engine (180hp), performance and handling are noticeably more sporty. Though still benign and easy to fly, ZX’s 125kt cruise speed means that things happen notably faster than in KO, IO and OS, so ZX is not normally used for the early stages of training.
Unsurprisingly, ZX is a favourite for members travelling far afield – as far as Dubrovnik, Malta, Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica and Africa in recent years.
“And now for something completely different . . .”
G-CHTO Rans S7 Courier
Totally dissimilar from our Robins, TO offers our qualified members the opportunity to enhance their flying skills and broaden their experience even further. As a “taildragger” (third wheel at the back instead of the front!) with “bushplane” capabilities, TO is ideal for landing in demanding and unusual places inaccessible to normal light aircraft – also delightful for gentle pottering around, being very quiet and with huge doors that can be opened in flight…