Led by increasing demand for its R66 turbine single, Robinson Helicopter posted strong numbers last year, delivering 517 aircraft, up from 365 in 2011, according to company CEO Kurt Robinson. “Things have definitely picked up,” he told AIN.
The total included 191 R66s, 194 R44 Raven IIs, 92 R44 Raven Is and 40 two-seat R22 helicopters. Total employment at the company’s Torrance, Calif. manufacturing plant has increased to 1,300. Currently, the company is producing 12 helicopters per week across all models, with R66s accounting for five of them since this model has amassed an eight-month order backlog.
Robinson also reported that more than 300 R66s have now been delivered since the helicopter received FAA certification in late 2010. Over the summer, the company certified a police package for the R66 that includes as standard a Flir camera, fold-down color monitor, searchlight, dual audio controller and other items that are optional on base models.
The company continues to work on finishing certification requirements to sell the R66 in Canada, Europe and Russia, certifying the aircraft on floats and with a cargo hook and developing glass-panel options for its aircraft, which is slated to be completed in the first half of this year. “We’re almost done with that,” Kurt Robinson said of foreign certification efforts. “That should increase orders and we are pretty positive.”