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DR 400 Regent

Hello everybody,

not sure if this is the right place for my question but i am looking to buy a DR400/500 Regent.

My idea was, the younger the better. Mid time engine and two axis autopilot should already
be on board. Any advise or hints to a plane are welcome.

with regards

Can you tell us how familiar with type you are now?
It will help target information relevant.

United Kingdom

You mean familiar from the technical point of view?! My club has owned a Remorquer for towing for years. I know about the wing spar issue and have heard about a recurring inspection for the gear, no details though. Thats basically all i know. The Regent would perfectly fit my misson profile. I have owned a plane before so i am familiar with the general aspects like engine etc.

After nearly 17 years on a Regent 180 I’m of the opinion that it’s possibly the best aircraft in it’s class and can compete quite well againt a few outside it’s class.
But you probably already know that.
Despite my insistance that they should be treated with upmost care and delicately, ours actually shrugged off some fairly heavy use and some fairly heavy landings (not me) without giving a hoot.
She was easy to grease on to anything longer than 400m.
Would get out, full of fuel, luggage and 4up with 600m.
We always saw 120kts ias at around 2500ft 38lts/hr.
We had the aux fuel tank and I loved having a choice of 4 tanks. Makes fuel management very easy as you can always just work on 3 and know that there’s another hour of fuel hiding somewhere.
I really think that we were let down by not having an autopilot for touring as you do need to ‘fly’ a little more than a C172 or Pa28 and even more so in IMC. So really do try to get one with autopilot. We looked into retrofit and Stc stuff got very awkward and was a non starter.
The same issues come up if trying to upgrade to a full IFR fit if it’s only a VFR type panel.
Ask anything and I’ll help where I can.


United Kingdom

Regent wrote:


Those are slightly different airplanes and I would advise you to at least take a seat in DR500. The only downside of DR500 is higher empty weight. Variable pitch prop is another significant difference.

Regent wrote:

My idea was, the younger the better

From technical point of view it doesn’t really matter if a wooden structure has worked 2000 hours or 20000 hours. As an owner of 45 years old Jodel I’m biased, but I would stay away from airframes build in 80s and early 90s. DR401 with it’s swiftwing is a no go.

Regent wrote:

two axis autopilo

That’s the most difficult point, because very few Robins are equipped with an autopilot. Would you be satisfied with an S-tec? Because there is no other choice for DR400/500. AFAIK there is no STC for any autopilot for any Robin. The factory can performs installation of an S-tec and generate the necessary paperwork. There is no other way. My airplane is equipped with a single axis analogue Badin-Crouzet autopilot, you might find a similar device in early DR400s. If you enjoy hand flying than a Robin would be a perfect airplane for you, if on the other hand you would rather just press a button and enjoy the view, than I would really look at something alse. With modern autopilots from trutrak or Trio available for single digit k $, getting a compatible airplane is in my opinion no brainer.

Regent wrote:

wing spar issue

get an airplane which has no such issues

Regent wrote:

recurring inspection for the gear

That’s really a minor issue.

GA_Pete wrote:

The same issues come up if trying to upgrade to a full IFR fit if it’s only a VFR type panel.

I’m undergoing an upgrade from steam gauges IFR to ASPEN/GTN IFR, and frankly speaking it’s a tedious process. I’ll not get into details yet, but If IFR capability is important for you than you might want to look for a recently built or overhauled Robin which has all the necessary instruments in place. Again, a DR500 might be a good pick.

Why is there so little autopilot support, given the huge Robin fleet in France?

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom


Last Edited by mh at 13 Feb 21:22
Aufwind GmbH
EKPB, Germany

Please excuse my lack of detailed knowledge but it all goes alomg the lines of…
Most older Robins that had some sort of autopilot, had it removed on or after a term of failure and the paperwork and hardware evaporates leaving no real option to revisit.
Any later equipment that may be suitable, originates in the US where Robins don’t exist so no STC.
As mentioned above, the Factory can do upgrades during a full airframe overhaul but its of no use for just upgrading to achieve autopilot.

Hence I ended up exiting the Robin for a different machine altogether.

United Kingdom

Everybody thanks for your answers so far

I have been through the process and would only buy a plane again which would only need minor changes in the avionics. Less work and effort (time and money) to overhaul the engine than installing an autopilot.

Question for you Robin_253, for what reason would you avoid the 80s and early 90s airframes? From wich year on would you buy again, 1993/94? What has to be done with the gear and at what cost and after how many years or hours?


Sure, but with a (assuming, here) big market, you could go for a DGAC approval, based on a US STC. Socata had a great relationship with the DGAC and I am sure Robin always have had too, given how closely involved the DGAC is with French GA. Any such approval would have been automatically grandfathered into EASA in 2003. And there have been loads of autopilots to choose from in the 1980s and 1990s, all of which “work” quite adequately.

Hence I am sure various people did look into this (it seems an obvious low hanging fruit) and found the market wasn’t there. Some avionics people – example – tried to do an STC and found little interest. So, I think, having heard some background about the struggles involved in installing IFR avionics into current aircraft by persons who should have been intimately familiar with the type (indicating that almost nobody is actually having the equipment installed) you don’t need a PhD in social research to work out the blindingly obvious i.e. that the “IFR application” of these types is really rare, despite the huge fleet in France. Knowing some owners, it would not surprise me if most of the IFR demand is outside France, where relatively few are based.

Most older Robins that had some sort of autopilot

This one? Unlike the old American boxes that one seems to have almost never worked, for very long.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom
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