33 Crashes: Design Flaw Or Pilot Error?

Twenty years ago, Frank D. Robinson was designing helicopters on drafting tables he set up in the living room of his home in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. Today, Robinson Helicopter Co., of which he is founder and CEO, produces more civilian choppers than any other maker in the world. Police agencies use the Torrance (Calif.) company's lightweight R-22s for air patrols. Radio stations track traffic with them. Hundreds of executives commute in the two-seaters. Because they're relatively inexpensive--$110,000 each, a fraction of the cost of the bigger models made by rivals Bell Helicopter Textron and Sikorsky Aircraft--8 of 10 flight schools depend on them for pilot training.

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