Rolls-Royce unveiled a new turboprop engine for general aviation applications on Tuesday at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis. The RR500 turboprop engine is larger than the turboshaft RR300 launched last year and will deliver 350 to 450 shp. Based on the RR300 core, the RR500 features a higher mass flow compressor and correspondingly matching turbine, as well as an exhaust-down configuration, a gearbox and propeller controls.
It wasn’t just the great Texas barbeque that put smiles on the faces of Heli-Expo visitors. A hot market for helicopters ensured that the show’s first trip to Houston would go down a record-setter.
Robinson Helicopter dealers who attended yesterday’s press conference said they are ready to place orders for the turbine-powered R66 currently under development at the Torrance, Calif. company’s headquarters.
Serving perhaps as a testament to the current strength of the world helicopter market, engine maker Rolls-Royce (Booth No. 1917) is celebrating the delivery of its 30,000th Model 250. This particular engine, a Model 250-C30HU, was installed in an MD Helicopters Model 530F. Approximately 16,000 Model 250s remain in service, according to the company.
Robinson Helicopter and Rolls-Royce are making progress with their partnership on the Robinson R66. Rolls-Royce expects certification of the new engine, the RR300, early next year. There is an outside chance that the helicopter could be certified next year as well.
Small but noteworthy helicopter equipment manufacturers found a suitable showcase for their products at Helitech 2007 in Duxford, England, early last month. Big OEMs Agusta-Westland, Bell, Enstrom, Eurocopter, MD Helicopters, Robinson and Sikor- sky (along with accompanying subsidiary Schweizer) were either present or represented, and they had sales to announce.
The pace of new technology infusion in helicopter turbine engines is not slowing.
General Electric, Honeywell, Pratt & Whitney Canada and Rolls-Royce all have significant civil turboshaft development in progress. Turbomeca has no major program under way, apart from the (mostly military) Ardiden. But the French-based firm has precise views about future key technology advancements.
Rolls-Royce yesterday formally introduced the cat that Frank Robinson let out of the bag on Thursday, the Model 300 turboshaft engine that will power Robinson’s five-place R66 and likely other helicopters in its class.
A strengthening worldwide market for civil and military helicopters is responsible for keeping senior executives at engine-maker Rolls-Royce jubilant–but not satisfied.
Looking to the near-term future, Rolls-Royce views unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and emerging civil markets in China and India as the next big growth areas, according to Scott Crislip, president of helicopters and small gas turbine engines for the UK manufacturer.
Enstrom Helicopter Corp. president and CEO Jerry Mullins said yesterday that he is courting potential investors to support the company’s expansion plans, but that no firm commitments have been made.
“I’m looking for some capital to assist us with that,” he said. “We’re feeling really good about the exposure we’re getting finally,” he added.