The Cabri Guimbal G2 has made its foray into the American Light Sport/Training Helicopter market, and has proven to be the only real competition to the R22 Robinson model. Although this Author has not flown the Guimbal, he has flown an R22, and so this is a statement of the differences between the two aircraft.
Both aircraft use a piston engine. The Guimbal makes roughly a hundred horsepower, but it costs almost $175,000 more than the R-22. The explanation for these extra dollars seems to be that the G2 has a fully articulated rotor head and a ducted tail rotor for safety; the R-22 doesn’t have either. The Guimbal also has greatly reduced overhaul costs (approximately $50k cheaper).
The G2 can carry a maximum of 600 lbs, or two very fat pilots, and the R-22’s left capability is roughly the same, making the both of them similar aircraft in that regard. The hourly operating costs including fuel and maintenance are roughly equivalent (with the except of overhaul costs) as well. The main difference between the aircraft is this: Guimbal’s chief designer was also the designer guru at Eurocopter, and the styling and design of the G2 reflect this.
For instance, the G2 has smooth lines, a ducted tail rotor, rounded skids, and a semi-custom interior featuring leather and plastic. The R-22 has none of these things, instead having fully exposed tail rotors, skids that would look at home on a construction site, and a bare-bones interior. But it is also half the price.
And one can indeed customize the R-22 to look a bit better, but that has never been the point of the R-22; it’s a training and light-sport helicopter, not a beauty queen. The G2 on the other hand, although intended as a training bird, reaches just a little high for the US market. Maybe in Europe without the exchange rate the aircraft is comparable in price, but here in the US there is nothing about the Guimbal that justifies the extra price tag.
As always, I encourage you to test-fly both aircrafts before making any purchasing decision. From what I can tell, the Guimbal is a showroom type helicopter that put it’s futuristic design first. Yes, the articulated rotor head and the ducted rotor are nice, but they are unnecessary in the training market- the R-22 has neither and yet is the top sells. I believe the R-22 has nothing to worry about in regards to this newcomer. The Cabri could easily become a serious competitor, but not at this price tag.