November 2018

2018 November

Robinson R66 Turbine

First production R66 Turbine delivery: November 2010

The Robinson R66 helicopter is designed and built by the Robinson Helicopter Company located in Torrance, California. The R66 is Robinson’s first gas turbine powered helicopter and was derived from the piston powered Robinson R44 helicopter. The R66 is a single-engine, five-seat helicopter with a two-bladed main rotor, two-bladed tail rotor, fixed skid landing gear, T-bar cyclic, energy absorbing seats and crashworthy bladder fuel tanks. The R66 is the first Robinson helicopter with a cargo hold; the hold carries up to 300 pounds (140 kg). The R66 is constructed from advanced composites, aluminum alloy sheet, and chromoly (chromium-molybdenum) steel. Like the R44, the R66 has both electromechanical instruments and the more modern digital glass cockpit.

The R66 is powered by the Rolls Royce RR300 turboshaft engine. This engine is more compact and lighter than the Lycoming O-540 six-cylinder piston engine that powers the R44, therefore the R66 has a lower empty weight than the R44. The RR300 has a simplified single-stage centrifugal compressor and is rated for 300 shaft horsepower (shp); derated to 270 shp for takeoff and 224 shp for continuous operation. The turbine burns Jet-A fuel at a rate of 23 US gallons (87 liters) per hour, compared to 15 US gallons (57 liters) of Avgas per hour for the Lycoming O-540.

Announced in 2007, the R66 was designed to be the company's first turbine-powered product. Most of the R66 design is based on the earlier piston-engine R44. Robinson started taking orders for the R66 in February, 2010. It went into preliminary production in 2010, and full production in 2011. The existing two-seat R22 and four-seat R44 continue in production.

The R66 received both type and production certificates from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on October 25, 2010. Russia certified the R66 in March 2013, while Canada certified it in the summer 2013. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) both granted certifications in the second quarter of 2014. A cargo hook installation was approved in both the European Union (EU) and the United States in 2015.

A four-seat police version of the R66 entered production in 2012. It has a Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) camera system, searchlight, and external public address (PA) system as standard equipment. The R66 Turbine Marine version with pop-out floats was FAA certified in November 2014. When outfitted with the pop-out floats, the R66 Turbine Marine offers an additional level of safety for over-water travel. Designed for emergencies, the six-chamber floats inflate within 2-3 seconds of activation. The installation adds approximately 65 pounds to the helicopter’s empty weight. When not in use, floats roll-up and stow in protective covers along the aircraft’s landing skids. The streamlined, low profile design minimizes drag and allows for easier entry and exit of the cabin.

And, on July 24, 2017, Robinson delivered the first production R66 “Newscopter.” The standard R66 ENG (Electronic News Gathering) package includes a five-axis gyro-stabilized gimbal that houses an Ikegami HD camera and Canon’s 22-to-1 HD lens. For tighter coverage, an optional gimbal that accommodates the camera and Canon’s 40-to-1 lens is available. Also standard are Garmin’s G500H PFD/MFD system, Garmin’s GTN 650 navigator, three HD micro cameras, two seven-inch monitors, and two Geneva digital audio controllers. Camera controls are located on the center and laptop consoles in the aft compartment. Images are display on several HD monitors. A multitude of options are available including a HeliSAS autopilot and air conditioning.

Photo: Robinson Helicopter
Text: Paul Fardink

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