Robinson Helicopter CEO Kurt Robinson reports year-to-date sales surging following reduced production numbers in 2014. Last year, Robinson built 329 helicopters, down from 523 in 2013. However, this year Robinson said production is already back up to eight to nine helicopters per week, consisting of one R22, three R66s, and four to five R44s on average. He said the company is currently running two shifts and had the capacity to produce up to 1,000 helicopters per year at its plant in Torrance, Calif.
Robinson is so confident about his company's future, in particular the R66 turbine single, that he said the company signed a deal here at Heli-Expo with Rolls-Royce for deliveries of 1,000 of its RR300 turbine engines over the next decade. Robinson calls the RR300 “the perfect engine” for the R66. To date, the R66 fleet has amassed 275,000 hours, 115,000 of those coming last year alone. “The reports we have received from customers on the R66 have been incredibly positive,” said Robinson. “We've had no significant problems with it at all.”
As the R66 grows in popularity, Robinson said the company had also increased the number of service centers for the helicopter to 112 worldwide. He said he expects to see demand grow for the R66 now that the FAA has certified a Turbine Marine version with pop-out floats and that the Garmin G500H avionics and Genesys HeliSAS autopilot are available for the helicopter.
Robinson also pointed out that the R66 can now be equipped with an accessory bar to provide uncluttered power to personal electronic devices. He said the company continues to work on more kits and options for the R66 including a law-enforcement package, a 1,200-pound-capacity external cargo hook that can be operated from the pilot or passenger position and auxiliary fuel bladder that adds up to hours or more range. Robinson (Booth 3221) also continues to work on certification of the R66 for operations in blowing snow.