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Sunday, April 1, 2007

Rotorcraft Report: Rolls Unveils Engine for R66; Others Eye It, Too

HELI-EXPO 2007

Rolls-Royce is developing a new turboshaft engine to power Robinson Helicopter’s first turbine helicopter and is discussing the application of the powerplant to the products of Enstrom Helicopter, MD Helicopters, and Schweizer Aircraft.

Unveiled at Heli-Expo, the RR300 is "a major step forward in the helicopter industry," said Scott Crislip, Rolls’ president of helicopters and small gas-turbine engines. It is being designed to provide 300 shp at takeoff, putting Rolls into the lower power range of turboshaft engines. Rolls also is billing the engine as offering excellent hot-and-high performance and outstanding value. "You will see big things from this small engine," Crislip said.

Robinson’s R66 is planned as a five-seater positioned between that company’s piston R44 and older versions of Bell Helicopter’s turbine 206 JetRanger. Rolls is shooting for FAA certification of the engine by 2008. The engine is to embody new technology and advanced design methodology. Under their agreement, Rolls will provide several hundred RR300s to Robinson.

Rolls also has signed memos of understanding with Enstrom, MD, and Schweizer to discuss applications of the new engine on their products. Enstrom’s turbine 480FX is powered by a version of Rolls’ Model 250, as are MD’s MD520, MD530, and MD600. Schweizer uses the Model 250 on its civil 333 helicopter, the unmanned MQ-8B Fire Scout rotorcraft it is building for the U.S. Navy and Army with Northrop Grumman, and the fixed-wing RU-38 turboprop surveillance aircraft it builds for U.S. agencies.

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