The Buttons below will take you through the different hints and tips that I feel will make your helicopter safer and more reliable.

Belts and Hoses
  • Check the age of all belts and hoses on the helicopter, both use hours and calendar years and their age should be determined from their date of manufacture. If your kit is old, insure that these issues are researched and resolved.
  • Replace any belts or hoses that are nearing or beyond the recommended hours or calendar life. A broken belt or hose can cause the loss of your helicopter. Insuring that the rubber components of your helicopter are within their life limits goes a long way toward avoiding in-flight failures.
    The photo above was taken shortly before the tail rotor belt failed from running too loose.
    The photo below was taken after the tail rotor belt broke in flight,the cause of this crash was not a design issue, it was a maintenance issue and could have been prevented had the tail rotor belt tension been checked and adjusted prior to flight.

    Jim Dohrman allowed his tail rotor drive belts to run too loose and knew it but he let it go a bit too long. He lost his tail rotor belt while flying with his wife in this ship and did an auto into this stand of oak trees. He then was medevaced to a local hospital by helicopter. He is now flying Medevac helicopters with much of his required helicopter flight time gained in this Rotorway helicopter. It is now in the process of being rebuilt.

    I would like to point out that even though Jim's Rotorway fell through the canopy of trees to the ground, the crashworthiness of this kit helicopter undoubtedly saved the lives of the occupants and prevented serious injuries.

    The tail rotor belt system on the pre-Talon Rotorway helicopters is reliable when properly tensioned, inspected, and maintained.

  • A broken belt or cracked hose can lead to the loss of your helicopter, it is not worth the risk
  • Steve Foster, one of my beginner students some years back had a rubber section of the water pump belt come off in flight. The belt was purchased as new from another builder but the shelf life was unknown. The belts backing remained in tact but the belt slipped down off the water pump pulley. The water pump stopped turning as well as the alternator which is run off the same belt in most installations(this is a good reason to install an alternator failure light to warn of a belt break). Steve did not notice the water temp climbing or the alternator not charging so the engine overheated and froze. Steve was flying at 500ft agl and was able to autorotate to the ground and was able to walk away from the ship. Steve is now an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner who performs private and commercial helicopter check rides for my students. He is also a helicopter flight instructor who has his own flight school now. It is Bull Dog Aviation in Searcy, AR.

ACIS? Belt hours

  • a. Belt is only good for the number of hours specified by the factory.
  • b. If you have the ACIS you need to install the belt tension kit from factory


  • Nathan is quite the inventor and in the early Rotorway years he designed a number of great modifications for the early Execs. One area that he wanted to improve on (the factory design has worked well for years) was the engine oil drain hose where the oil leaves the crankcase and flows into the oil tank. Nathan replaced the factory supplied rubber hose ( I know of no failures of this factory-supplied hose) with abraded stainless hoses and fittings of his own design. There is a lot of vibration of the engine in the outlet area and while Nathan was test hovering his helicopter the new hose fitting broke out of the engine casting taking the threads and a portion of the crankcase with it. Oil poured over the engine compartment and ignited on the hot exhaust. Two large fire extinguishers were not enough to extinguish the fire. It ended up consuming the helicopter. Nathan plans on rebuilding. Below is a photo of the engine showing the part of the casting that broke away allowing the entire engine oil supply to pour out and onto the hot exhaust.

Wally hired me to help him install all of the modifications that I suggested to him, those that I knew of at the time. See the Landing Gear thread for his survival story. Following his flight training he was on approach when his NON-FACTORY Pro-Drive after market cog belt broke. He was able to auto to the ground and slide it onto the surface due to installing my extended skid modification. The cog belt was sent back to the manufacturer who determined that the belt failure was from running the belts too loose.

The Rotorway Factory cog belt system tensions the belts on the slack side to take up any looseness. I highly reccomend installing the Rotorway Cog belt main drive system on your Rotorway helicopter. This system can be ordered from the Rotorway factory.






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