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Robinson's new turbine-powered R66 hits the market

Robinson R66 turbine-powered helicopter Robinson Helicopter is accepting non-refundable, $75,000 deposits for its new Roll-Royce RR3000-powered model R66. Base price for the standard version of the R66 is set at $770,000. The R66 is the first turbine-powered helicopter to be sold by Robinson, which previously centered on piston-powered trainers.

The R66 will have five seats and better performance than any previous Robinson helicopter. It will also be heavier. But signature Robinson features, such as the T-bar cyclic controls and two-blade rotor system, remain basically the same.

Robinson expects to have extensive R66 support in place by the end of 2010.

A standard R66 is sparsely-equipped, but there’s a large list of optional equipment. Among the list are an artificial horizon ($3,990), heading indicator ($4,690), a Garmin 530AW GPS/COM/NAV with GI-106A CDI ($25,600), and a $6,400 tow cart. A King KY 196A com radio is standard, as is a Garmin GTX327 transponder and leather seats.

Company President Frank Robinson said that all efforts were now centered on earning FAA type certification of the R66, which he said “shouldn’t be too much longer.” Orders are coming in rapidly, he said, and initial production rates should start “at about two per week.” The Robinson factory has expanded its floor space by approximately 130,000 square feet to accommodate R66 production.

“It flies very much like the R44, but it’s a little smoother, a little quieter, and a little bit faster,” Robinson said. As for step-up training, Robinson said that this would take about “20 minutes or so, to learn the start sequence … otherwise, it handles just like an R44.” However, to qualify for insurance in the R66, he felt that the more R44 time a pilot has, the better.

Additional components and options are in the works. These include air conditioning, a police version, and pop-out floats.

Preliminary specifications were issued at Heli-Expo 2010.

Preliminary specifications

Gross weight

2,700 lbs

Empty weight

1,280 lbs

Max fuel

73.6 gals/493 lbs

Payload with full fuel

927 lbs

Cruise speed

approximately 120 knots

Max range (no reserves)

approx. 325 nm

Hover ceiling, in ground effect

over 10,000 feet

Hover ceiling, out of ground effect

over 10,000 feet

Rate of climb

over 1,000 fpm

Max operating altitude

14,000 feet

Thomas A. Horne
Thomas A. Horne
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne has worked at AOPA since the early 1980s. He began flying in 1975 and has an airline transport pilot and flight instructor certificates. He’s flown everything from ultralights to Gulfstreams and ferried numerous piston airplanes across the Atlantic.

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