Robinson Helicopter yesterday told AIN that it set an initial price of $770,000 for its Rolls-Royce RR300-powered R66 single-turbine helicopter. The company also has begun accepting $75,000 individual deposits and dealer applications for the helicopter and will have it on display at Heli-Expo later this month in Houston.
Both product support and research and development have taken hits in the helicopter industry as cash flow and current sales shrink, while future orders are clouded by important changes and growing uncertainty in key customer sectors.
Rolls-Royce boosted availability of RR300 engine parts and customer services by signing an exclusive distribution agreement with AAR. According to Rolls-Royce Helicopter Engine business president Ken Roberts, the worldwide AAR group
will provide a turnkey solution for RR300 operators around the clock. The RR300 turboshaft has been selected by Robinson Helicopter to power its new R66 and
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.