Robinson Helicopter founder Frank Robinson said certification of the company’s new turbine R66 was “very close” and that the company planned an initial production rate of two per week for the $770,000 Rolls-Royce RR300-powered helicopter. He said the company’s current plant in Torrance, Calif., could easily accommodate anticipated R66 production.
Turbine-engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce predicted robust growth for the global helicopter market over the next decade at a Heli-Expo press conference yesterday, with total deliveries of more than 16,400 turbine helicopters valued at $146 billion in its 2010 to 2019 forecast horizon. The helicopters will require approximately 26,000 new turbine engines valued at about $12 billion, according to the company.
The first flying turbine-powered Robinson helicopter arrived on Thursday at the George R. Brown Convention Center for Heli-Expo 2010 with Robinson Helicopter vice president Kurt Robinson and chief test pilot Doug Tompkins at the controls of the experimental R66.
There are surprisingly active developments in the single-engine helicopter field, with new rotorcraft on the way such as the turbine-powered Robinson R66 and Sikorsky S-434. Kit manufacturer RotorWay is even coming to market with a planned certified turbine helicopter, the 300T Eagle, announced at last year’s EAA AirVenture show. The Russian Helicopters Mi-34S2 Sapsan will also offer turbine power.
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.
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.