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CHR International Inc., a privately held Florida corporation, was formed in 2009 for the purpose of purchasing the assets of Canadian Home Rotors Inc., which included the manufacturing rights to the SAFARI helicopter. Since that time, CHR International Inc. (CHR) has continued production and marketing of the SAFARI Helicopter. Canadian Home Rotors Inc., which was a Canadian corporation, ceased operation in 2009.
CHR International Inc. is wholly owned by Bobby and Delane Baker. Both principals had been in management positions with Canadian Home Rotors Inc. for 4 years prior to the formation of CHR. Many of the staff remained with the company after the acquisition. Two of the long-time developers of the helicopter continue to be involved with the company as consultants.
Administration, sales, machining, fabrication, component and helicopter assembly, and shipping are based at the main Florida facility. In addition, CHR occupies hangar space at Marianna Airport, fabrication space at a nearby privately owned airport, and fabrication space in Northern Ontario, Canada where airframes are fabricated. CHR employs 11 people, in addition to the principals.
The company offers custom flight ready and tested SAFARI helicopters, complete kits for homebuilding, assistance to builders of the helicopter, service and repair, flight training, and numerous adjunct parts and accessories.
The safety of our customers is our most important consideration.
The satisfaction of our customers is our next most important consideration.
Our customer’s investment will be secured by continuing improvements to our primary product and growth of our organization.
The SAFARI helicopter first appeared in 1954 as the Helicom. The design later evolved into a Commuter, then a Commuter II. The manufacturing rights to the Commuter II were purchased by Murray Sweet, one of the original partners in Canadian Home Rotors, Inc. For a number of years, the helicopter was sold as a kit for homebuilding. After many modifications and improvements, the helicopter was introduced at the EAA AirVenture Air Show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 1992. The public immediately named it “Baby Belle”, referencing its resemblance to the popular Bell 47. As the helicopter became more popular, Bell Helicopter requested a name change and the Baby Belle became the SAFARI.
There have been constant improvements to the helicopter over many years, but the essential concept has remained unchanged – to produce a safe, simple, economical and dependable small helicopter powered by a proven aircraft engine.
Each SAFARI produced requires an individual Airworthiness Inspection and Certificate, as it is not manufactured under a type certificate from the US Federal Aviation Administration. It is registered under the “experimental” classification in North America. With a gross weight of 1,650 pounds, it competes in capacity with the Robinson R22 or Sweizer 300. Sturdy construction, a Lycoming aircraft engine, and dual controls make it an excellent choice for a number of applications.
The safety record of the SAFARI is exemplary. The few serious accidents that have occurred resulted from design modifications by the helicopter owner or operation outside of standard aviation practice. The simple design, using many standard, commercially available parts, makes the SAFARI an economical choice. With a parts reserve of $38 USD per hour, the operating cost of the SAFARI is very competitive with other helicopters of its size and capacity.
The SAFARI main transmission, main rotor head, main rotor blades, and tail rotor assembly are a proprietary design, assembled at our Marianna, Florida facility. Most of the parts that make up these critical components are produced on the company’s own CNC and other equipment. The primary gears in the transmission are produced to exact specifications by a reputable manufacturer of aircraft gears, and are hardened and ground to close tolerances.
While it is difficult to track experimental class aircraft sold in kit form, CHR maintains contact with 130 owners of Helicoms, Commuters, Baby Belles, and SAFARIs. The highest concentration of aircraft is in North America, with 76 based on that continent. The South Pacific is home to 21 helicopters, with another 28 in Europe and 5 located in Asia.
Since the acquisition of SAFARI in 2009, CHR has been focused on a thorough re-examination of the manufacturing, assembly and construction processes. While the helicopter had an excellent background, every part and process was examined for quality and effectiveness. As a result, several hundred small and large changes were made in these areas. The increase in quality of the finished product and the addition of numerous standard features has put the currently produced SAFARI into a class of its own. This new model, the SAFARI 400 (which still looks like a Baby Belle) was introduced at EAA AirVenture 2011 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
With the introduction of the SAFARI 400, the company has returned its focus to marketing, primarily through the World Wide Web, social media, and exhibition of the SAFARI at regional and national air shows.
In addition to participation as an air show exhibitor, CHR has worked to promote the presence of SAFARI owners and their helicopters at the major air shows, by providing housing for the owners and fuel for demonstration flights. These efforts have resulted in the appearance of 6 or more privately owned SAFARI helicopters at the last 5 major shows, with numerous Grand Champion awards for the quality of the helicopter. A 48 foot show trailer purchased just before the SunNFun Air Show in Lakeland, Florida in 2011 has also made the SAFARI more visible and attractive at air shows and other venues.
The company is committed to the establishment of an extensive dealer network to promote sales and to provide service and support to SAFARI owners. One of the largest barriers to SAFARI ownership is the lack of local service. SAFARI dealers take advantage of a number of revenue sources, including helicopter sales commissions, parts sales commissions, customer support and service, flight training, and builder assistance.
CHR values the existing relationships with long time dealers representing the brand in the South Pacific, Europe, and Asia. The company is also working to establish new dealerships throughout the world, with recent successes in Brazil and Mexico. The company is actively seeking partnerships with organizations already involved in aviation in several key countries, working with the US Commercial Service and local contacts to identify and approach potential dealers in South Africa, India, Chile/Argentina, China, and Central America. A recent partnership with a Russian company working to legally import the aircraft into that huge market is expected to result in long term growth. CHR is also working to identify companies or individuals to represent the brand throughout North America.
CHR is also seeking new markets through the purpose-built agricultural sprayer currently in development. This aircraft will utilize the proven design of the SAFARI, with a modified single seat frame and flight controls. With a load capacity of 650 pounds, this aircraft will be an attractive alternative to spraying with fixed wing aircraft. This platform will also be utilized as an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. CHR is currently in negotiations with a potential partner to provide the technology necessary to operate the helicopter remotely, for multiple applications.
In the last few years of its existence, Canadian Home Rotors Inc. averaged annual sales of 12 units. During the last 2 1/2 years, CHR has focused on product improvement at the expense of sales. Based on forecasts from company activities and reports from existing dealers after the introduction of the SAFARI 400, sales are expected to reach a minimum of 18 units in the next 12 months.