Kurt Robinson was generally upbeat about the prospects for his family’s iconic helicopter company, during yesterday’s Heli-Expo press conference. Last year the company delivered its 11,000th helicopter and it will soon deliver its 500th R66 single-engine turbine ship. Production currently stands at two to three R66s, five R44s and one R22 per week.
In a choreographed display of lights and music, Bell Helicopter unveiled three refined mock-ups of its new, five-seat “short light single” (SLS) helicopter–now officially renamed the “505 Jet Ranger X”–this morning at Heli-Expo in Anaheim, Calif. The company previewed the SLS concept with an announcement and renderings last year at the Paris Air Show.
Bell Helicopter CEO John Garrison said that the price of the company’s new short light single (SLS) helicopter would be pegged near $1 million. Bell is expected to reveal a mock-up of its re-entry into the light single market at its booth on Tuesday at 11 a.m.
CEO Kurt Robinson said he is focusing on keeping his family’s helicopter company “lean and mean to provide a good product at a competitive price” to bring value to its customers. “We’re going to keep our pencils sharpened,” he told AIN. Robinson Helicopter posted another strong year in 2013, producing 523 helicopters, up from 517 in 2012 and a long climb from the 2010 rate of 162. As was the case in 2012, the piston-powered R44 continues to be the top seller, with 289 produced in 2013; but the $839,000 turbine-single R66, with 192 already delivered, remains the company cash cow.
Robinson Helicopter posted another solid year in 2013, but it could have been even better had the U.S. dollar not surged against select foreign currencies. That’s the word from company CEO Kurt Robinson. “This year  is almost identical to last year ,” said Robinson, whose company produced 517 helicopters across its product line in 2012. Preliminary production numbers for the company that do not include the closing days of 2013 indicate it produced 39 R22s, 80 R44 Raven Is, 198 R44 Raven IIs and 188 R66 turbine singles.
A Robinson R66 is being used in Colombia as a pediatric air ambulance. It is flying alongside a Westwind 1124A and Learjet 31 with Fundacion Cardiovascular de Colombia (FCV).
Doctors at FCV are using the R66 to reach pediatric patients in remote areas. The back seat of the R66 has been replaced with a bench, an incubator and other medical equipment in accordance with FAA “Form 337” rules. A typical flight of one hour replaces a ground ride of four to nine hours, which for some infants was just too long.
Rolls-Royce and StandardAero have finalized a license agreement in which StandardAero will become the engine OEM’s first independent authorized maintenance, repair and overhaul center (Amroc) for the RR300 turbine engine in North America. The agreement, announced earlier this year pending agreement of terms, makes StandardAero one of only six planned Amrocs.
The MRO has already accepted three RR300s at its Winnipeg, Canada repair facility.
Deliveries of civil turbine helicopters will recover slowly until they exceed their 2008 peak in 2018 and then reach a demand plateau, according to the Teal Group’s rotorcraft market forecast covering 2013 through 2022. The study predicts that 10,300 civil turbine helicopters worth $60.3 billion will enter service during that period.
When most operators put a new turbine-powered Robinson R66 into service they spend some time flying it around the local area just to check things out. But when Moscow-based Aviamarket got its first pair of turbine-powered R66s, the company went a bit further. A six-week around-the-world-type further, to be exact.
As the Robinson dealer in Moscow and operator of a growing helicopter flying club, Avamarket’s team was eager to show off the capabilities of their first pair of R66s, which had received Russian certification in March.
The Teal Group released a 10-year rotorcraft market forecast that shows civil turbine helicopter deliveries slowly recovering and exceeding their 2008 peak in 2018 before reaching a demand plateau. Overall, Teal predicts that 10,300 new civil turbine helicopters worth $60.3 billion will enter service between 2013 and 2022.
According to the forecast, Eurocopter will stay in the number-one position in terms of billings, with AgustaWestland hot on its heels. Bell, in the number-three spot, is anticipated to outsell Sikorsky.