HAI Convention News

RotorWay takes major step with launch of turbine helo

 - February 22, 2009, 6:40 PM

RotorWay (Booth No. 1334), well known for its successful, piston-powered  A600 Talon two-seat kit-built helicopters, announced yesterday it is taking a big step up in the market with plans for an FAA-certified, two-seat turbine helicopter that it hopes to have flying in time for the EAA AirVenture show this July.

Paving the way for the move is the recent acquisition by Chandler, Ariz.-based RotorWay of PMC Machining and Manufacturing of Phoenix. PMC is an ISO9000:2000- and AS9100-certified manufacturer that “will significantly enhance the more than 40-year tradition of building high-quality helicopter components for builders of experimental helicopters,” said RotorWay CEO Grant Norwitz. “Having an ISO9000:2000 and AS9100 manufacturing environment along with 21st century design, cockpit and engine technology will enable RotorWay to produce the first certified, high-performance turbine trainer.”

The choice of engine at this point is the Rolls-Royce 300 and, according to Norwitz, talks are well under way with a composites specialist. The airframe, he said, would most likely be a marriage of the latest technology with the “tried-and-true.”

The new craft–as yet unnamed–would fill “the pressing, unmet market for a moderately priced two-seat turbine helicopter for use in training programs, commercial environments, private piloting, aerial photography, film and news production, military, law enforcement and a host of other applications,” said Norwitz.

“We want to make turbine training competitive with piston in cost-per-hour, with the cockpit environment of established small and medium [turbine] helicopters already available,” added PMC CEO Mark Porter.

Norwitz said RotorWay’s current kit-built product, the sixth-generation A600 Talon, will serve as a stepping stone toward the new FAA-certified helicopter, but noted that the company has no intention of discontinuing the aircraft on which the company itself was built. RotorWay has been offering homebuilt experimental helicopter models for more than 40 years and nearly 200 are currently in service worldwide.