Jump to content

Aircraft Update : Robinson R44 Raven ll to X-Plane 12 by vSkyLabs


Recommended Posts

VSL R44_Raven_XP12_Header.jpg


Aircraft Update : Robinson R44 Raven ll to X-Plane 12 by vSkyLabs


The Robinson R44 is a four-seat light helicopter produced by Robinson Helicopter Company at Zamperini Field in Torrance, California since 1992. Based on the company's two-seat Robinson R22, the R44 features hydraulically assisted flight controls. It was first flown on 31 March 1990 and received FAA certification in December 1992, with the first R44 delivery in February 1993. The R44 has been the world's best-selling general aviation (GA) helicopter every year since 1999. It is one of the most-produced GA aircraft of the 21st century, with 5,941 deliveries from 2001 to 2020.


"Raven" moniker comes with those hydraulically assisted controls and adjustable floor pedals. Then in July 2002, Robinson introduced the Raven II, featuring a more powerful  Lycoming IO-540-AE1A5 6-cylinder air-cooled horizontally-opposed piston fuel-injected engine, 245 hp (183 kW) and the wider blades, this "ll" variant also allows for a higher gross weight and improved altitude performance.


The R44 from vSkyLabs was first released in late 2020 for X-Plane 11, this is the updated v3.0 X-Plane 12 version, but the original X-Plane 11 version is still available as part of the package. It's an upgrade, so no costs are associated with these XP12 changes.


This being a vSkyLabs aircraft, Then the vSkylab philosophy is that you are purchasing an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed or is usually not completed to 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft, and all the development is free and ongoing throughout the X-Plane 12 version. These projects are under constant development: the development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements. So this aircraft is noted as an "Early Access" project.


VSL R44_XP12_head 1.jpgVSL R44_XP12_head 2.jpgVSL R44_XP12_head 3.jpgVSL R44_XP12_head 4.jpg


VSkylab's always do great modeling and detail, and here it is no exception, however there isn't that what you would call ultra-realism feel, if even a more model style bland with no say of the real world wear or tear feel, so the R44 feels pristine factory new. The detailing is however very good, and realistic, and now there is that more of that X-Plane 12 depth and shine, or better PBR than the XP11 version. This is very evident of the metallic look and pearlescent feel to the skin of the aircraft.


VSL R44_XP12_head 6.jpg VSL R44_XP12_head 7.jpg


VSL R44_XP12_head 5.jpg


All Robinson's are very recognisable by their high tower to rotor hub arrangement, so the control rods are extremely short.


VSL R44_XP12_Rotor 3.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Rotor 4.jpg


The connected twin-aluminum skin blades are 198 inches long and are modeled here to droop very nicely...  the Xp12 update also has Improved rotor blades simulation to the more advanced XP12 dynamics.


VSL R44_XP12_Rotor 1.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Rotor 2.jpg


The rotor hub is fully animated in all control movement, collective, throttle and pitch.


VSL R44_XP12_Rotor 5.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Rotor 6.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Rotor 7.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Rotor 8.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Rotor 9.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Rotor 10.jpg


Tailrotor Yaw is also nicely animated with clever moving parts and joints...


VSL R44_XP12_Rotor 11.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Rotor 12.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Rotor 13.jpg


...   notable is that the tail rotor direction of rotation on the R44 is reversed compared to the R22 for improved yaw control authority. On the R44 the advancing blade is on the bottom.


All vSkyLabs aircraft only use the X-Plane "Hotspot" selection system, so no menus, and only the clickable options are available (for VR users). Click on any small catch externally or the metal loop handle internally for the door to open, or press the front door hinge to hide all the four doors.


VSL R44_XP12_External 1.jpgVSL R44_XP12_External 2.jpg


Glass is very nice, thickish and slightly tinted, but totally clear of marks or dirt.


Somewhere along the updates is the change of the leather seating colour from a tan to the bright red...  the new seat colour certainly helps in bringing out the cabin to the more detail...


VSL R44_XP12_Internal 1.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Internal 2.jpg


Power on and you get inserted the fully (arms and legs) animated pilot, add in weight in the X-Plane "Weight & Balance" menu for each of the three other passengers and they appear in their respective seats.


VSL R44_XP12_Internal 20.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Internal 21.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Internal 22.jpg


...   all Robinson's use the T-Bar Cyclic, but this one is not a twin grip, but a single grip to the right, HYD switch and red side engine "Starter" button. Notable is the revolving Speed placard on the T-Bar and you can hide the T-Bar via pressing the cover lower.


VSL R44_XP12_Internal 3.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Internal 4.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Internal 5.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Internal 19.jpg


Landing light switch is mid-mounted on the T-Bar, and note the animated centre window pillar "Whiskey" compass (it "shakes")


The main instrument panel "Classic 7" has two rows of dials, top row is (LtoR) Vertical Speed (V/S), Artificial Horizon with Slip Indicator, Speed (knts), and engine readouts RPM %. Lower row is Altimeter, Heading Dial and Engine Manifold Pressure. Very simple but effective. Note the excellent rolling turn bubble and you can adjust the Horizon bar. The instrument detailing is very, very good and of good quality.


VSL R44_XP12_Internal 6.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Internal 7.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Internal 8.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Internal 9.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Internal 10.jpg


Left centre pedestal is top a large clock, and a Quartz (Hobbs) meter set below, Right pedestal is all the engine and fuel gauges with an Amp gauge and Oil Pressure top, Aux Fuel Tank (17.0 US GAL/64 Liters) and Oil Temperature centre, Another Main Fuel Tank (29.5 US GAL/112 Litres) and a CYD HD (Cylinder Head) Temperature gauge is bottom. Lower centre pedestal is the electrical panel, with Lighting, Instrument Panel (adjustable) top, Nav Lts and Strobe lighting below. Clutch (Eng/Diseng), ALT (Alternator), Master Battery, and (Pump) Prime switch.


Lower centre console is a basic KX 155 NAV/COMM Radio (NAV 1/COM 1) that can be switched from Com1 to Com2. The knob above turns to open a vent.


Two features are aimed directly at VR (Virtual Reality) users. There is a Handbook down right, but it is only a single page "Checklist" held right under your nose, but it is well done.


VSL R44_XP12_Internal 11.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Internal 12.jpg


Second feature is the Avitab (Aviators Tablet) plugin intergration, the iPad is a basic install, but it is here in a good set position, there is no rotation to portrait mode, a feature I grumble about every time, and you can't turn it off either, so you have to just make it disappear if you are not using it (you click the sucker mount).


VSL R44_XP12_Internal 13.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Internal 14.jpg


Single Collective is simple (the R44 here is not a dual-control), it has a twist throttle and on the end is the Governor switch (off to start, then on), and the Fuel tank (switch) is on the bulkhead behind...  


VSL R44_XP12_Internal 15.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Internal 16.jpg


Internal detail overall is very good, and you have gotta love those hanging headsets and cables when the power is switched off. Note the central (operating) pull down (handle) rotor brake.


VSL R44_Raven_Internal 5.jpgVSL R44_Raven_Internal 6.jpg


The internal cabin is the same one as the X-Plane 11 version (except for the red seats), but with the transition to X-Plane 12, it creates a totally different 3D environment than the flat bland X-Plane 11 feel, everything now is so much more highly realistic in view and lighting...  night and day!


Flying the (updated) R44

Starting the R44 chopper is still a slightly complicated set procedure, and it is wise to understand and read the enclosed R44 manual, but the R44 needs to be mostly started via the extensive pop-up checklist. Several things to know...  clutch has to be disengaged, you PRIME, then switch to BOTH, and the Fuel (Mixture) knob has to set to RICH (or in) there is a animated cover to note to "not to pull it out, or you will fall out of the sky" marker. Governor switch is on the end of the Collective (off to start, then on), and the Fuel tank (switch) is on the rear bulkhead.


VSL R44_XP12_Flying 5.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Flying 6.jpg


...  starting is via the red starter button on the right Cyclic. Throttle is controlled on the Collective, and you move it left or right (left for power which is reflected in the Twin-RPM% dials). When all correct the Heading Compass will shake to the clatter rotor rotation, which has that twin-blade Huey "chop,chop" sound at idle.


 VSL R44_XP12_Flying 7.jpg


Sounds are highly re-tuned for X-Plane 12, with the move to the FMOD 2+ sound system as well. They were pretty good originally, but better is still better and you feel and hear that here. Also new are the Implemented physics-based blade-slap sounds.


I really like the vSkyLab nose detail with the built in twin-nose (Landing) lights, they are as we shall see are quite powerful.


VSL R44_XP12_Flying 2.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Flying 3.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Flying 4.jpg


You have to make a decision early on of what sort of flying feel you want with the VSL R44. Last review didn't have the extra (weight) of the optional three passengers, so the R44 was slightly nervy (Not as bad as some sporty choppers), but add in the passenger weight of the three other passengers in this a small machine, and the feel and handling of the Robinson changes quite a lot, actually to the better, as the weight gives you more control.


The bonus is that the extra weight is now set more central, so that gives the R44 a more balanced poise when in the hover, it is far easier to stay static and in not having to fight the machine to stay in one place.


VSL R44_XP12_Flying 8.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Flying 9.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Flying 10.jpg


Slight touches of the T-Bar cyclic will give you your manoeuvrability, either front, backwards or slightly to either side, but the tail (yaw) needs a lot of focus to keep the nose straight, as you can't just hold a position, but have to constantly have to change your yaw slightly to counter the nose moving around. Obviously it feels rather (or slightly) different from the XP11 version with the X-Plane 12 better dynamics, tuned new in here, so yes it is far better than I remember.


VSL R44_XP12_Flying 14.jpg


Sink the nose (pitch forward) and your quickly moving forward with a gradual lift of the collective. The R44 will gather speed very quickly, even with a full load on board...


VSL R44_XP12_Flying 11.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Flying 12.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Flying 13.jpg


The R44 has a maximum speed of around 130 kn (150 mph, 240 km/h), but mostly you will cruise around 109 kn (125 mph, 202 km/h), with a range of 300 nmi (350 mi, 560 km) with no reserve.


For a little chopper the R44 is quite smooth, once you get into the groove, and the Robinson does have quite a nice control feel. in 1997, a Robinson R44 was piloted by Jennifer Murray for the first helicopter circumnavigation of the world by a woman, covering a distance of 36,000 miles in 97 days. For me personally I couldn't fly that far manually, but an R44 also holds the piston speed record of 227 km/h. Tricky that, as in the VSL R44 we have no SAS or Stability Augmentation Systems to take over the flying, so it is always a physical manual flight.


VSL R44_XP12_Flying 15.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Flying 16.jpg


Untrimmed...  you have the cyclic forward, but also holding the stick slightly to the right to keep the course straight. Wearing after a while with the consistent pressure to hold the said position, but feedback is very good...  let us be honest, this is a basic helicopter to fly, basic all round, but it does deliver a good simulation in the dynamics of which vSkyLabs are renowned for...


VSL R44_XP12_Flying 17.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Flying 18.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Flying 19.jpg


Notable is that the "Autorotation" has been improved in X-Plane 12, this is when you use the blades with no power and still fly via the automatic lift (like an autogyro), This is a qualification requirement to flying helicopters.


I push down the collective around 70 knts and keep the power in the green band, then you use your nose high pitch to control your descent under just autorotation. Tricky is slowing down as the R44 is so light, I remember this from the earlier XP11 R44, trying to rub off the speed can be very hard, so throwing yourself towards the ground takes a lot of nerve.


Then as you descend you time and return the power via the collective while balancing the yaw, smooth collective action is important. So too much collective pull, and up too quickly will balloon your landing, but get it right and you should go straight into a 5 knt forward hover. The VSL R44 is ideal to practise this manoeuvre, as by here in this video.




VSL R44_XP12_Flying 20.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Flying 21.jpg


But the R44 also has that very light tail, so it needs a fair bit of practise to learn how to control it, as you get closer to the ground, your movement on the pedals have to be varied and also super-smooth.


VSL R44_XP12_Flying 22.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Flying 23.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Flying 23.jpg


Another change in XP12 is the skids now have more movement (animation), they move out and spring upwards when touching (or leaving the) the ground. Personally I don't like the jerky movements, better solid as this as it does not look very realistic as just some bendy skids.


VSL R44_XP12_Flying 26.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Flying 25.jpg



Lighting is okayish and upgraded here for XP12...  Very nice Instrument lighting is only one knob adjustable. The overhead spot light does a fair job for map reading or for general lighting, but lighting overall feels a bit dull.


VSL R44_XP12_Lighting 1.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Lighting 2.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Lighting 3.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Lighting 4.jpg


External lighting is average, but far better than the earlier XP11..  I like the twin red and white strobe lights on the long beam tail, and the better navigation lights...   but those twin-nose Landing lights are super-bright...


VSL R44_XP12_Lighting 5.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Lighting 6.jpgVSL R44_XP12_Lighting 7.jpg


There was originally only two liveries, a Black and a shiny Blue...   but now six more have been added, they are all however of the same scheme of colour and with stripes lower... a bit more creativity in schemes would have been nice. Grey is default.


VSL R44 - LIvery black grey.jpgVSL R44 - LIvery black red.jpgVSL R44 - LIvery blue pink.jpgVSL R44 - LIvery dark grey.jpgVSL R44 - LIvery cream blue.jpgVSL R44 - LIvery metallic blue.jpgVSL R44 - LIvery Red grey.jpgVSL R44 - LIvery Red white.jpg



The Robinson R44 is a four-seat light helicopter produced by Robinson Helicopter Company, and based on the two-seater R22. This one is the more slightly heavier Robertson R44 Raven ll, a light helicopter that seats a pilot and three passengers with hydraulically assisted controls, it also features the more powerful  Lycoming IO-540-AE1A5 6-cylinder air-cooled horizontally-opposed piston fuel-injected engine, 245 hp (183 kW) and has the wider twin-blades.


Note that you are purchasing an ongoing project with any vSkyLabs aircraft and all the development is ongoing, so this is not a 100% fully developed project.


Overall most vSkyLabs aircraft are all mostly basic, but they are also fully detailed to the extreme. There are also no menus or static objects or extensive features, as the focus is totally on the dynamics and flying performance, updated here to X-Plane 12 dynamics. But the R44 also delivers a very credible flying performance.

Only interactions are with the few interaction zones that; lock the mixture, move the throttle, change altimeters, open the four doors (you can remove them as well), have a 3d checklist and hide the T-Bar Cyclic control column. AviTab intergration and exceptional VR-Virtual Reality is also available.


X-Plane 12 update includes, Improved rotor blades simulation, Improved throttle governor, Autorotation regime tune-ups. In sounds FMOD v2.0+ and physics-based blade-slap sounds. Better PBR is now matched to the latest X-Plane 12 rendering engine and creates a better metallic look and pearlescent feel to the external, and a more realism effect internally. There are also six new/additional default liveries. Skunkcrafts Updater is also now included.


Although one of the most popular helicopters built, the R44 is a bit of a challenge to fly, so yes some helicopter skills are required here, but when acquainted to the dynamics, it is also highly enjoyable. If you love the VSkyLab's philosophy, then you will love the R44.


So another nice helicopter from VSkyLab's updated to X-Plane 12, you want more of course in features and details, but that is not what VSkyLab's is about...  it is all about the flying pure and simple, and in that area the Robinson R44 Raven ll really delivers...  recommended.


Now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore or directly from vSkyLabs



X-Plane Store logo sm.jpg


Yes! the Robinson R44 Raven II Project - VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Series is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :

Robinson R44 Raven II Project - VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot'

On sale: $32.95 US$21.41


Project Main Features:

  • Optimized for the latest X-Plane 12 Flight Model
  • Robust and Highly Defined flight dynamics model of the Robinson R44 Raven II helicopter, built around the powerful, native X-Plane  'Experimental Flight Model' environment
  • Highly detailed model of the Robinson R44 Raven II helicopter
  • Autorotation capable
  • Comprehensive systems which were designed to follow the real R44 Raven II POH, as authentically as possible within X-Plane 11 flight simulator limitations
  • Fully functional VR (Virtual Reality) Ready: highly interactive cockpit environment including levers, switches, guards, 3D checklist viewer, modular cyclic and more
  • Equipped with Robinson's classic 7 holes analog panel
  • R44 Auxiliary fuel system.
  • Removable doors
  • Fully featured GNS530
  • Built-in Avitab Compatibility (Avitab plugin not included)
  • Multi-Layer FMOD 2.0  sound pack
  • The project is under constant development: development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements
  • Skunkcraft Updater is included: project updates are fast and efficient!



X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11

Note: latest version is for X-Plane 12 . XP11 version still available
Windows, Mac or Linux
8 GB+ VRAM Recommended
Current version: 3.0 (January 5th 2024)
AviTab Plugin is required for this aircraft
Note: In order to use and enjoy VR environment in X-Plane, user hardware and system specs should meet the required specifications for OS, CPU, GPU, MB and RAM which are specified both in the given VR hardware websites and at X-Plane.com.
Aircraft download is 265 Mb, and unpacked then installed in your X-Plane  Aircraft folder 413 Mb
  • How to INSTALL your VSKYLABS aircraft.pdf
  • How to UPDATE your VSKYLABS aircraft.pdf


  • VSKYLABS Robinson R44 POH.pdf
  • VSL R44 Essentials.pdf

VSL R44 - POH 1.jpgVSL R44 - POH 2.jpg

Designed by VSKYLABS
Support forum for the Robinson R44 by VSKYLABS


Review System Specifications: 

Windows  - 12th Gen IS1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU - 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133PNY GeForce RTX 3080 10GB XLR8 - Samsung 970 EVO+ 2TB SSD

Software:   - Windows 11 Pro - X-Plane 12.09rc3 (This is a Release Candidate review).

Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00

Scenery or Aircraft

- KHAF - Half Moon Bay by Rising Dawn Studios (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$19.00

- KJAX - Jacksonville International Airport (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$19.99



Update Review by Stephen Dutton

10th January 2024

Copyright©2024: X-Plane Reviews


(Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved


Logo Header X-PlaneReviews 200px.jpg


Logo Header X-PlaneReviews 200px.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...