Estimated reading time 5 minutes, 11 seconds.
Nov. 30, 2010 marked another high point in the history of Robinson Helicopter Company when it delivered the first R66 Turbine helicopter (N4506Y) at its production facility in Torrance, Calif.
Kurt Robinson, president of Robinson Helicopter, handed over the keys for the R66 to the buyer, HeliStream, Inc., a long-time Robinson Helicopter dealer and operator. After delivery, HeliStream pilot Mark Robinson and chief pilot Andreas Moser proceeded to depart in the helicopter to its new home: HeliStream’s rooftop heliport facilities at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Calif., 25 miles south of Torrance.
Mark Robinson told Vertical, “The new R66 Turbine is a welcome addition to our fleet of 19 helicopters and adds additional capability over our R22s and R44s we already operate With the R66 we can provide a turbine helicopter at a lower hourly cost than our larger turbines.” According to Mark Robinson, HeliStream plans to operate the R66 in the flight-training role as well as for tour flights, business transport, aerial photography and charter work. He said, “We see the R66 as fitting in perfectly between the piston R44 and our larger [Eurocopter] AS350 AStar.”
Mark Robinson added, “I was excited to be the first pilot to pick up the new R66 helicopter from the Robinson facility; this was a historic event and I was thrilled to be a part of it. Now I’m looking forward to training new students and transitioning current helicopter pilots into the R66.”
Barbara Perrin, CFO of Helistream, commented, “My partner Rod Anderson and I have worked with Frank Robinson and Robinson Helicopter Company for over 27 years. We started as a R22 dealer back in 1984 and in the early 1990s received one the first R44s. After working with RHC for many years we were very excited to have been selected to receive the first R66.”
Perrin continued, “As is known, both the R22 and R44 revolutionized the helicopter industry and we think the R66 will be equally successful, if not more so. Having flown the R22 and R44 for as long as we have, we realized long ago the reliability and excellent performance both helicopters have, and expect the R66 Turbine to do the same. I predict the R66 will be a strong seller for many years to come.”
Equipped with the Rolls-Royce RR300 Turbine engine – giving it increased power and altitude performance – the R66 is the next step up from a R44. The large baggage compartment and five-seat interior allow for more flexibility and increased mission capability over the R44.
During a quick interview with Vertical on the future of the R66, Kurt Robinson stated, “We see the R66 filling a large void in the marketplace, and we see new markets being created because of the low cost of the R66 Turbine helicopter. Governments who only operate turbine helicopters are a strong market. Also, areas of the world where Avgas is hard to come by are a market where we see the R66 doing well in. We are positive about the future and see 2011 as a year the helicopter market will gain strength. Robinson Helicopter plans to deliver the first 10 R66s to the domestic market by the end of 2010 and start international deliveries during 2011. We’ll start with building two per week and then ramp up to three per week as soon as possible. Over time we will increase production to meet demand.”
With production moving forward and more deliveries soon to come, the next generation of Robinson helicopters has truly arrived.
For Vertical’s flight test review of the R66, see “Even More of a Good Thing“