Robinson is looking at increasing production rates of its R66 turbines after a bumper year of orders.
Speaking at the company’s Heli-Expo press conference on 12 February, Kurt Robinson, CEO and president of Robinson Helicopter, said 2011 was ‘a very good year’ with production not only doubling compared to 2010 but also allowing the building of a comfortable backlog of around 640 helicopters.
Robinson said the company was currently building around four R66 Turbines a week but he was looking at boosting that number to around six and it was possible that could increase further to eight or even ten a week should market demand require it.
‘The economy has turned around,’ said Robinson, ‘Although the US market is recovering, 70% of our orders came from outside the USA.’
During 2011, the company delivered 356 helicopters, more than doubling the number of helicopters sold in 2010 (162) . Of that 356, 56 were R22s, 212 were R44s and 88 were R66s.
The company has now delivered more than 100 R66s, and Robinson said they were receiving ‘tremendous feedback’ about the aircraft.
The company is preparing a number of new developments, including a law enforcement version of the R66 which takes much of the equipment from the police R44. This version is expected to be certified during this year.
The company is also working on the development of a news gathering version of the aircraft as well as a version fitted with a cargo hook. A R66 fitted with floats has operated from water and its hoped that the option will be made available this year. The news gathering variant is expected to be certified in 2013.
While the R66 Turbine has already been certified with the FAA as well as several agencies in Asia and South America, Europe’s EASA and Transport Canada are waiting for results on tests on the redundancy associated with the sealed hydraulic controls on the aircraft. Robinson carried out tests in November and is awaiting feedback from the authorities about the issue.