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Mon, Mar 09, 2009

Aero-TV Checks Out The Robinson R66: Turbine Power, Familiar Face

Frank Robinson's 'Robby' Helos Go Turbine

The Robinson R66 is one of the few bright spots in an otherwise bleak outlook for the future of light aircraft over the next few years. The Roll-Royce RR300 powered five place helo is scheduled to see certification within the next year and deliveries shortly thereafter... but none too soon for Robinson Helicopter... whose once lofty sales numbers are getting hammered by a global economic meltdown.

After setting sales records in 2008, especially in terms of foreign shipments (even catching the attention of then-President Bush, who stopped by to get a look at the operation for himself), Robinson sees the R66 as a serious competitor for future turbine helo buyers who are looking for the simplicity and cost-effectiveness pretty much absent from the competition.

The R66 is powered by the RR300, and engine that was specifically developed in consultation with Robinson, and optimized for the R66. The Model 300 is a modernized derivative of the Rolls-Royce Model 250, though the new model number coincides with the takeoff power rating of the 300-shaft horsepower powerplant. This takeoff rating is lower than for the Model 250 line, resulting in lower turbine temperatures that will allow a 2,000-hour TBO of the turbine to match the 2,000-hour airframe overall planned for the R66 -- a minimum standard on all Robinson products.

The Model 300 also features a simplified single-stage centrifugal compressor that, along with a lower acquisition cost, is expected to result in lower maintenance costs.

The R66 maintains the simplicity and dependability designed to the Robinson line since the very first R22. The R66 will retain many proven design features of current Robinson aircraft including a two-bladed rotor, T-bar cyclic, and the same open cabin configuration found in the R44. Initial cockpits will offer analog instrumentation, which Robinson promises will ease the transition from the piston R44 to the turbine R66. Seating will accommodate two adults in the front and three in the back. Pilot seats are a mite wider and legroom has been increased, to boot, with an overall cabin width increase of eight inches. New to the R66 is a dedicated baggage compartment large enough to hold golf clubs or a professional chain saw and tools. The certified empty weight is expected to be 1270 pounds, with a useful load of 1300 -- a solid 300 pounds over the R44.

The R66's projected price is expected to hover just south of $1 million, which is 'more than a fully equipped R44 Raven II, but less than the Bell Jet Ranger.'

Aero-TV Looks To The Future of Turbine Helos with the Robinson R66! 



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