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Friday, March 1, 2013

Robinson to Display Police R66 and ENG R44

By Ernie Stephens, Editor-at-Large

Torrance, Calif.-based Robinson Helicopter (Booth C1511) will display two of its specially equipped aircraft at Heli-Expo 2013. One will be a law enforcement version of its turbine-powered R66, and the other will be an R44 electronic newsgathering (ENG) platform. Conventional versions of the company’s current best-selling helicopter—the four-seat, piston-driven R44 Raven, and its two-seat piston helicopter, the R22—will likely share the display area with the two, purpose-built models.

“They’re all factory demos, except the R66 police helicopter. It’s being operated by Fontana Police,” said Kurt Robinson, president of the company and son of its founder, Frank Robinson. “They just took delivery of it late last year. So, that’s why we’re having them bring it out.”

Fontana is located approximately 40 east of Los Angeles, and boasts a population of 196,000 residents within its 43-square-mile city limits. Its police department has been utilizing a law enforcement-equipped R44II under a lease agreement since 2003.

Robinson R66 Police version. Photo by Ernie Stephens

The police version of the R66 comes with forward-looking infrared thermal imaging equipment, searchlight, moving map system, and public service radio suite. It has seating for a pilot and three other occupants. (The standard R66 seats five, but the rear/center seat in the police version is replaced with an avionics bay concealed beneath a raised armrest.)

Robinson’s standard R66 received FAA certification in late 2011, and has been drawing a positive response from operators looking for a turbine helicopter with a base price of less than $1 million.

Also on static display at the Robinson booth will be an R44 Newscopter. That aircraft is scheduled for delivery to Sky Helicopters, a multi-mission operation based in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas area.

The ENG version of the R44 comes equipped with a gyro-stabilized camera, digital downlink gear, “on-air talent” cameras, and rear cabin-mounted production station for a broadcast engineer.

“We were increasing production all through the year, and we ended up producing 517 helicopters, which is a significant increase over 2011,” Robinson said. “We did 356 helicopters that year.” The company has also been swamped with greater-than-anticipated requests for cargo hook and float upgrades for the R66.
See the full story in Rotor & Wing’s Show Day publication at the event.
Related: Airframe News

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