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Robinson sales dip, reboundRobinson sales dip, rebound

New optional windshield protects from bird strikesNew optional windshield protects from bird strikes

Robinson Helicopter Co.’s 196 deliveries during 2019 were down by almost 100 aircraft when compared to 2018, but the past two to three months are showing a significant sales uptick worldwide, company President Kurt Robinson said at HAI Heli-Expo 2020 in Anaheim, California.

Robinson's popular R44 and R66 helicopters are examined by visitors to HAI Heli-Expo 2020 in Anaheim, California. Photo by Mike Collins.

“Last year, 2019, was a little slower year for Robinson,” he said. The company delivered 19 R22s, 54 turbine-powered R66s, and 123 R44s. He added that the leading sales occurred in Australia, Canada, and China.

Robinson said 2020 production has been scheduled at one R22, two R66, and three R44 helicopters per week. If maintained, that rate will match 2018 production, and Robinson is bullish on demand. “At that current rate, we’re already sold out for the first six months,” he said.

He praised the R66’s performance in the marketplace. “The aircraft is doing amazingly well, all over the world,” Robinson said, noting that the R66 fleet passed 1 million flight hours last September—and now has logged more than 1.1 million hours. The 1,000th R66 will be delivered sometime during the next six months, he added.

A new option this year is an impact-resistant windshield, designed to deflect a two-pound bird at 90 knots in an R22 and 100 knots in an R44 or R66. “It’s made of polyurethane. It replaces the acrylic that’s in the windshield.” Robinson showed a video in which the windshield deflected from the impact of a simulated bird strike, then rebounded without shattering or cracking. The new windshield is a $6,800 option that adds only one or two pounds of weight to the helicopter.

Also new for the R66 are optional auxiliary fuel tanks, which add either one or two additional hours of endurance—providing either four or five total hours of endurance. “This has proven to be a very popular option,” Robinson said, noting that 60 percent of R66 buyers are choosing to add an auxiliary tank.

The R66 gets a new Shadin fuel flow meter in 2020, and new boarding steps.

The company continues to work on the diesel-powered helicopter that it announced last year. “We are very much still working on it,” Robinson said. “We’re very pleased with the progress.”

Tim Tucker, longtime chief flight instructor and head of Robinson’s flight department, is handing over chief instructor duties to Bob Muse, currently the assistant chief instructor. This will allow Tucker to spend more time in his volunteer duties with the U.S. Helicopter Safety Team. Making Tucker more available to the industry will help the entire industry, and not just Robinson Helicopter, in the safety area, Robinson said.

Mike Collins

Mike Collins

Technical Editor
Mike Collins has worked for AOPA’s media network since 1994. He holds a private pilot certificate with an instrument rating.
Topics: Helicopter, Helicopter Association International

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