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First approved by the FAA in 2011, an increasing number of the more than 1500 Robinson R66 Turbine Helicopters  produced are approaching the mandatory 2000 hour overhaul service for both the airframe as well as the RR300 engine.  The purpose of this post is to provide a general overview of the scope of work, estimated timeline, and costs associated with returning your freshly overhauled R66 to airworthy condition

R66 Airframe Overhaul

What is included in the R66 overhaul kit? 

All parts required to complete the 2000 hour airframe overhaul are all available through Rotorcop by ordering  KI-6602 and either the KI-6602-1 or KI-6602-2 tailcone option.  

Announced in November 2023, the KI-6602-1 tailcone includes the upgraded symmetrical horizontal stabilizer, which not only increases the safe operation of the helicopter, but the improved tailcone assembly carries an increased life limit from 2000 hours to 4000 hours  once installed.  

In the event your aircraft isn’t eligible for KI-6602-1 installation, then KI-6602-2 will be required. KI-6602-2 DOES NOT include the horizontal stabilizer upgrade and the 2000 hour life limit remains following installation. Please refer to R66 SL-45 (Updated Regularly) for proper tailcone eligibility for your ship. 

Regardless of your selected tailcone option, Rotorcorp will need to gather some specific configuration details that may impact the final pricing. These details include GPS/Com antenna bay locations, factory paint options, and registration mark options to name a few.

What additional airframe parts and expenses are there? 

Additional options to consider at the 2000 hour service interval include replacing interior furnishings (seats, carpets, etc.), replacing windscreens, upgrading to 5-point restraints, and any outstanding SB or AD compliance items which are not included in the overhaul kit. 

While Robinson provides a very comprehensive kit, operators should always plan on the replacement of some additional spare hardware that isn’t revealed until the physical overhaul begins, or that may be broken or damaged during installation/removal. We strongly suggest that operators plan for a 10% contingency ($5000) for these additional items. 

In a departure from the R44 overhaul kit, the R66 overhaul kit features a “built-up” gearbox, hydraulic system, and swashplate which come pre-assembled as a single unit from the factory (collectively, the Main Rotor Gearbox Assy.), greatly streamlining the installation time. 

RR300 Engine Overhaul 

At either the 2000 or 4000 hour service interval, it’s time to have your Rolls Royce RR300 engine overhauled. In a departure from R22 and R44 overhaul planning, it is the turnaround time of the RR300 engine service that dictates the larger overhaul planning timeline and not the airframe component lead time.  In other words, operators should give primary consideration to engine overhaul times before arranging for delivery of airframe kit components. All Rolls Royce RR300 engines undergo comprehensive inspection in conformity with RR300 Operations and Maintenance Manual as opposed to just maintenance manual procedures 5-21-00 (Scheduled Inspections), 5-13-00 (TBO and On Condition Items),  5-12-00 (Life Limited Components). In addition, there are several engine accessories that require inspection, service, repair or overhaul in conjunction with the engine. 

Direct Engine Overhaul, Rolls Royce FIRST Network 

While operators of R22 and R44 helicopters outfitted with piston engines have grown accustomed to the well-established Lycoming  factory exchange engine program and access to readily available spares for local “field” overhaul, the same options do not currently exist for the Rolls Royce RR300 engine powering the R66.  Despite mentions of engine loaner and rental programs through several providers, Rotorcorp has found little evidence to support their practical existence and there are currently no  consistent program options for exchange or field service for this more advanced RR300 engine. 

RR300 2000 Maintenance and inspection services are exclusively carried out by Rolls Royce Authorized Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul Centers (AMROCs), ensuring adherence to strict manufacturer specifications and industry standards. There are currently twelve RR300 AMROCS located worldwide to meet the RR300 engine fleet overhaul needs. 

Engine Accessory Overhaul & Service

It is also important to note that along with the engine limits, the following engine accessories with fixed time between overhaul (TBO) periods will also need to be inspected, serviced or overhauled:

  • Fuel Spray Nozzle
  • Gas Producer Fuel Control Unit (FCU)
  • Power Turbine Governor (PTG)
  • Single Element Fuel Pump & Filter Assembly
  • Generator Control Unit (GCU)- If needed
  • Starter/Generator Assembly (SG)- I needed

Of the twelve approved FIRST Network providers, there are currently seven that can handle all RR 300 accessory service,  overhaul and testing in-house. They are: 

Keystone Turbine Services (US, Pennsylvania), Standard Aero Limited (Canada, Winnipeg), Arrow Aviation (US, Louisiana), Essential Turbines (Canada, Montreal), Asia Pacific Aerospace (Australia), H&S Aviation (UK) and IAS (Brazil).

Additionally, Rolls Royce Notice To Operators (NTO-34) contains a detailed list of OEM and Rolls Royce approved third-party options for engine accessory inspection, repair and overhaul providers. 

Airframe & Engine Planning and Timeline

As of this writing in March, 2024 engine overhaul lead times are running approximately 6 months and airframe overhaul kits are available with an approximate 4 month lead time (Check KI-6602 Lead Times Here).  Rotorcorp suggests beginning initial overhaul planning approximately 9-12 months ahead of anticipated delivery date.  The airframe overhaul kit should ideally not be ordered until such time as the engine has been submitted to the selected AMROC for service and a firm delivery date has been established. We strongly recommend reaching out to 2-3 approved facilities to begin assembling quotes at about the 9-month point.  Providing the AMROC with digital copies of your engine logbooks to review as part of the quoting process will greatly increase the accuracy of the engine overhaul quote and reduce the likelihood of unforeseen expenses. 

The Engine Shipping Container 

Unlike piston engines which are generally palletized and crated for transport, the RR300 engine requires a specialized steel shipping container that provides stabilized mounting to its base and a secure steel cover to reduce the likelihood of damage during transit. Most AMROC facilities will have these containers for rent.  The containers cost just under $14,000, but are usually rented out to customers for $2-3,000. Please note that additional time and shipping cost is required for the AMROC to ship the empty container to your location before it can be returned with the core engine. The empty container will also need to be returned to the AMROC once your overhaul is completed.