A New Zealand company plans to build an all-composite, six-seat turbine single for less than the price of a new Robinson R66.
The ongoing worldwide need for helicopters of all types that serve diverse industry and government segments is helping keep manufacturers like Rolls-Royce busy. Current Rolls-Royce engine programs include the RR500 turboshaft and turboprop, the already certified RR300 and the venerable M250. The LHTEC T800 partnership with Honeywell also remains active, with four first flights last year.
There are surprisingly active developments in the single-engine helicopter field, with new rotorcraft on the way such as the turbine-powered Robinson R66 and Sikorsky S-434. Kit manufacturer RotorWay is even coming to market with a planned certified turbine helicopter, the 300T Eagle, announced at last year’s EAA AirVenture show. The Russian Helicopters Mi-34S2 Sapsan will also offer turbine power.
Both product support and research and development have taken hits in the helicopter industry as cash flow and current sales shrink, while future orders are clouded by important changes and growing uncertainty in key customer sectors.
Rolls-Royce boosted availability of RR300 engine parts and customer services by signing an exclusive distribution agreement with AAR. According to Rolls-Royce Helicopter Engine business president Ken Roberts, the worldwide AAR group
will provide a turnkey solution for RR300 operators around the clock. The RR300 turboshaft has been selected by Robinson Helicopter to power its new R66 and
RotorWay in late July unveiled a new production turbine trainer helicopter that it claims will be the world’s most efficient. The Eagle 300T will be powered by a Rolls-Royce RR300B1 engine, similar, but not identical, to the engine used in the Robinson R66. RotorWay CEO Grant Norwitz said the new helicopter would cost “more than a Robinson R22 and less than a Robinson R66” but declined to reveal an exact price.
RotorWay unveiled a new production turbine trainer helicopter yesterday at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. The Eagle 300T will be powered by a Rolls-Royce RR300 similar, but not identical, to the engine powering the Robinson R66. RotorWay CEO Grant Norwitz said the new helicopter will cost “more than a Robinson R22 and less than a Robinson R66.” Company officials said they expect the 300T to be certified before the end of 2011.
The helicopter industry isn’t immune to the terrible trouble affecting the global economy, but if Heli-Expo’09 is any indication, the greater diversity among operators of the world’s helicopter fleets helped deliver record high attendance and exhibitor activity.
Despite all the gloom about the recession, this year’s Heli-Expo in Anaheim, Calif., easily exceeded all expectations when it ended on Tuesday, with record attendance of 17,995 people, up from last year’s record total of 17,373. Exhibitor numbers also climbed a strong 12 percent, to 585 from last year’s 523, and the show exhibit area and static display included 65 helicopters.
RotorWay International, which aired plans on Sunday to build and certify a two-place turbine helicopter, on Monday announced the addition of an infrared enhanced-vision system (EVS) as a standard factory option for both RotorWay’s A600 Talon kit-built helicopter and the new unnamed Rolls-Royce 300-powered model.
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