The world's largest producer of helicopters and a leading engine manufacturer have joined forces to produce a next-generation light helicopter. Robinson Helicopters has revealed that it is developing a five-seat light helicopter powered by an all-new Rolls-Royce turboshaft engine. Torrance, California-based Robinson had been hinting at such a development for several years.
Dubbed the R66 Turbine, the helicopter will be about 20cm (8in) wider than its piston-powered R44 sibling. The two-blade main rotor has the same diameter as that of the R44, but is 20cm taller, said Frank Robinson, the company's president and chairman, at last week's Helicopter Association International show in
The target market for the new helicopter will be the ageing
Robinson's decision to launch was aided by Rolls-Royce's commitment to develop an economical new 300shp (225kW) engine for the programme. The RR300 powerplant will feature an increased inspection and overhaul interval of 2,000h and 4,000h, respectively, compared with 1,750h and 3,500h for the R-R Model 250, its predecessor. Robinson said he would have preferred a diesel-powered piston engine for the R66 but, despite searching for two years, could not find one light enough.
Scott Crislip, president of R-R's helicopters and small turbine engines group, said the RR300 would have a new supply chain and 7-9% better fuel efficiency than the Model 250, mainly because of an all-new single-stage centrifugal compressor.
Crislip says R-R also has agreements in place with