R66 certification ‘close’

 - September 21, 2010, 9:32 AM

FAA certification of the Rolls-Royce RR300-powered Robinson R66 turbine light single could come later this month.

 “We are close,” new Robinson president Kurt Robinson told AIN. He said the FAA was scheduled to conclude function-and-reliability testing late last month. If the testing does not encounter problems, certification could follow within weeks. The company planned to have factory air conditioning available in the R66 at certification. Not all current dealers of Robinson’s piston line will qualify as R66 dealers and all R66 dealers will be required to hold a valid Part 145 FAA repair station certificate, Kurt Robinson said.

Company founder Frank Robinson thinks that R66 production could eventually reach 150 to 200 annually, and earlier this year he set the initial price of the helicopter at $770,000. The company plans an initial production rate of two R66s per week.

Robinson announced the R66, its first turbine-powered helicopter, in 2007. The R66 is bigger than the piston-powered R44 on which it is loosely based. Its luggage bay is large enough for golf clubs. There is a fifth seat in the back, the pilot seats are wider and legroom is capacious, and the cabin is eight inches wider than that of the R44.

Empty weight is 1,270 pounds and the useful load comes in at 1,300 pounds, 300 pounds more than the four-seat, piston-powered Robinson R44’s The R66 has hydro-pneumatic engine controls as opposed to Fadec, and the traditional “six-pack” steam gauges instead of an integrated glass cockpit display. The R66’s main rotor chord is slightly wider than the R44’s, but the disc diameter is the same. Its fuel system meets new and more stringent crashworthiness standards. The R66 features the same T-bar cyclic as that in the R44 and is designed for easy pilot transition from the R44.

Initially, all major R66 components, including the engine, will have a TBO of 2,000 hours, although that is likely to be extended over time to perhaps 2,200 hours. The RR300 weighs about one-third of the Lycoming IO-540 that powers the R44 and
produces 225 shp (continuous). Forward speed on the R66 increases slightly to 117 knots and the service ceiling increases to 14,000 feet.