Yet another sign U.S. Gulf Coast tourism has recovered from the impact of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill: The start of heli-tour operations in Orange Beach, Ala.
Despite a number of recent fatal accidents involving post-crash fires blamed on the Robinson R44’s vulnerable aluminum fuel tanks, and despite the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s (CASA) publishing an airworthiness directive demanding replacement with improved flexible bladder versions, many operators have failed to comply.
Robinson Helicopter revealed its intention to obtain approval to operate its R44 and R22 piston-engine helicopters on unleaded fuel this week at Heli-Expo. According to Robinson CEO Kurt Robinson, engine maker Lycoming needs to obtain FAA approval to burn unleaded fuels in its engines while Robinson must perform airframe testing with the fuels on board for each of its relevant helicopter models.
Helitowcart unveiled its new dual-wheel assembly for the Robinson R44 and R66 at Heli-Expo ’13, adding to its line of helicopter handling devices and accessories. Like the company’s other dual-wheel assemblies, the Robinson kit caters to personnel operating on rugged terrain, or who wish to distribute aircraft weight on four tires. The wheel assembly offers two possible heights, is constructed from heavy-duty materials and offers long-arm control to ease rotation. The assembly is also designed to maintain solid contact with the helicopter skid.
Robinson Helicopter announced Tuesday at Heli-Expo that it is working with Lycoming and the FAA to have unleaded fuels approved for use in piston engines installed in its R22 and R44 models.
CEO Kurt Robinson said the FAA had issued the company a project code for the effort and made it a priority. He said he hoped to have all the necessary approvals from engine maker Lycoming in the first half of this year. “It’s environmentally the right thing to do and it bothers me that it hasn’t been done,” Robinson said.
Paraguay UNACE party leader and presidential candidate Lino Oviedo died February 2 when the Robinson R44 he was a passenger in crashed on a night flight from Concepcion to Asuncion. Adverse weather was reported in the area at the time of the accident, and the local press reported that the pilot, who was also killed along with Oviedo’s bodyguard, had objected to making the flight.
A Robinson R44 light single is undergoing heavy repairs at UTair-Engineering’s facility in Tyumen, Russia. The complete “inspection and refitting” is expected to take three months, ending next month. In 2012, UTair-Engineering passed the Robinson Helicopter and Russian Aviation Authority performance audits for maintenance, repair and overhaul operations. The company is thus now an authorized service center for Robinson in Russia.
Led by increasing demand for its R66 turbine single, Robinson Helicopter posted strong numbers last year, delivering 517 aircraft, up from 365 in 2011, according to company CEO Kurt Robinson. “Things have definitely picked up,” he told AIN.
The obvious difference between the piston-powered R44 and the turbine-powered R66 is the engine, but there are other features that make the R66 an entirely new machine, even though there's no mistaking that it is a product of Robinson Helicopter.
FAA certification of the Rolls-Royce RR300-powered Robinson R66 turbine light single could come later this month.