Advanced flight-control developer Skyryse is forging ahead with plans to bring to market by 2025 a Robinson Helicopter R66 light-single adapted with an innovative fly-by-wire system.

Skyryse plans to take factory-fresh R66s direct from Robinson’s facility in Torrance, California and strip out the stock mechanical controls – including the collective and cyclic levers, and the foot pedals – replacing them with touchscreen displays, a single control stick and “smart actuators”, to create a helicopter it calls the Skyryse One.


Source: Skyryse

Skyryse One is based on Robinson R66 single-engined turbine helicopter

Underpinning the modification is Skyryse’s IFR-compliant four-axis SkyOS flight-control system, which also introduces a host of safety features including automated pick-up and set down, fully automated autorotation and auto-hover.

Although the Skyryse One retains the R66’s distinctive silhouette – and its stock Rolls-Royce RR300 turboshaft – “that’s where the similarities end”, says vice-president of communications and marketing Ray Wert.

“We are stripping it down to the airframe and installing the new system from the ground up,” he says.

Although the Skyryse One is priced at $1.8 million, around $400,000 more than is typically spent on a new R66, or $700,000 more than the baseline version, Wert is confident that the differential will not be an issue.

“For the capability you are getting it’s a steal; you are getting a lot of bang for your buck,” he says.

“Based on how we are doing on reservations we are feeling very bullish on whether or not there is interest.”


Source: Skyryse

Stock mechanical controls are replaced with touchscreens and a single fly-by-wire stick

Skyryse, which has been “working with the FAA on our certification for a number of years”, expects to receive approval for the Skyryse One – via a supplemental type certificate – and begin customer deliveries in 2025.

While the broader SkyOS system and hardware has already been flight tested for several years, Wert declines to confirm if the fully conforming production aircraft has flown.

Ultimately, Skyryse’s delivery rate will hinge on how quickly it receives R66s from Robinson. Wert declines to say how many production slots it has reserved with the airframer, but describes the firm’s commitment as “one of the most sizeable” single purchases in Robinson’s history.

Although Wert stresses that Skyryse is fully focussed on obtaining certification for the Skyryse One, the developer already has its eyes on the next project. “It’s an aircraft-agnostic system – it has broad applications beyond just rotorcraft into fixed-wing too.

“We believe there are great opportunities to expand into our aircraft that can utilise our system.”

This article has been edited to correct a job title in the fourth paragraph.