RotorWay in late July unveiled a new production turbine trainer helicopter that it claims will be the world’s most efficient. The Eagle 300T will be powered by a Rolls-Royce RR300B1 engine, similar, but not identical, to the engine used in the Robinson R66. RotorWay CEO Grant Norwitz said the new helicopter would cost “more than a Robinson R22 and less than a Robinson R66” but declined to reveal an exact price.
RotorWay unveiled a new production turbine trainer helicopter yesterday at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. The Eagle 300T will be powered by a Rolls-Royce RR300 similar, but not identical, to the engine powering the Robinson R66. RotorWay CEO Grant Norwitz said the new helicopter will cost “more than a Robinson R22 and less than a Robinson R66.” Company officials said they expect the 300T to be certified before the end of 2011.
Helicopter turboshaft manufacturers are incorporating new technologies in their engines to lower fuel burn, enhance capabilities and reduce operating costs. The major manufacturers are developing engines to meet these demands, along with the need for more power and lower emissions.
Just two days after the second Rolls-Royce RR300-powered Robinson R66 made its first flight in February, Robinson Helicopter CEO Frank Rob- inson still had little good to say about small turbine-powered helicopters.
The helicopter industry isn’t immune to the terrible trouble affecting the global economy, but if Heli-Expo’09 is any indication, the greater diversity among operators of the world’s helicopter fleets helped deliver record high attendance and exhibitor activity.
Rolls-Royce last month launched the RR500 turboshaft, a 475-shp derivative of the RR300 that powers the in-development Robinson R66. Certification is scheduled for late 2011, with deliveries pegged to begin in the first quarter of 2012.
Despite all the gloom about the recession, this year’s Heli-Expo in Anaheim, Calif., easily exceeded all expectations when it ended on Tuesday, with record attendance of 17,995 people, up from last year’s record total of 17,373. Exhibitor numbers also climbed a strong 12 percent, to 585 from last year’s 523, and the show exhibit area and static display included 65 helicopters.
One of Heli-Expo’09’s worst-kept secrets, the Rolls-Royce RR500 turboshaft engine, was unveiled Monday afternoon in a brief but hearing-impairment-inducing ceremony at the engine maker’s booth. The RR500 turboshaft, a 475-shp derivative of the RR300 that powers the in-development Robinson R66, is scheduled for certification in late 2011. A turboprop version of the RR500 was first announced last summer at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis.
The second Robinson R66 made its first flight on February 18, marking an important milestone for a company dealing with the affects of the economic downturn. Weekly output at Robinson has fallen from 17 to 12 helicopters, with the number expected to go lower still. In January the company began laying off workers at a rate of 50 per month, the maximum allowed by law without having to give 60-days’ notice.
Most HAI press conferences involve stone-faced CEOs reading from note cards. They are accompanied by their entourage of aides and fellow executives, piles of handouts and elaborate audiovisual presentations. It’s all quite serious.
This is not how Frank Robinson gives a press conference.