March 7, 2011
By Alton K. Marsh
Robinson Helicopter President Kurt Robinson and his father, company founder Frank Robinson, think the worst is behind them as far as the economy is concerned. After the company delivered only 162 rotorcraft in 2010, there is now a backlog of 169 new orders.
Total production last year was 40 R22 models, 112 R44 models, and 10 R66 turbine helicopters. The company had to work its way through an unsold inventory before logging new orders. The new problem is to increase production. Robinson currently builds seven helicopters a week, including two five-place R66 helicopters, four R44 four-place models, and one R22 two-place model.
The company must also introduce the R66 on floats, a model with a cargo hook, an IFR trainer model, an R66 for police work, and another designed for news work. The news helicopter will be the last to be developed. In the meantime, the company is pursuing certification of the R66 in a number of countries, including Canada, Brazil, and Russia. Kurt Robinson said the company is “not in a hurry” to certify glass cockpit helicopter models. There are now 130 orders for the R66.
A new air conditioner weighing 42 pounds is now certified for the R66. The air conditioning option is $23,000. The first air-conditioned R66 is to be delivered to a Florida company in March.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
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