Robinson Marks R66 Milestones, Strong 2021 Sales

The OEM has delivered more than 1,100 of the light turbine helicopter model, with nearly 1.5 million engine hours on the Rolls-Royce RR300.

Kurt Robinson, president and CEO of Robinson Helicopter Company, expressed a similar optimism as leaders across the general aviation manufacturing industry as he reflected on the company’s recovery from the tough 2020 sales year during a press briefing at the Helicopter Association International Heli-Expo in Dallas, Texas, on Tuesday.

“We’re coming back really strong,” said Robinson, with 244 total shipments across its product line that exceeded 2019 figures.

Robinson reported to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) the following 2021 numbers for its single-engine helicopters in the piston and turbine markets:

  • R22: 33 units
  • R44 Cadet: 10 units
  • R44 Raven I: 34 units
  • R44 Raven II: 81 units
  • R66 (turbine): 86 units
The R66 is now Robinson’s best-selling model, with 86 delivered in 2021. [Photo: Julie Boatman]

The R66 Hits its ‘Market Niche’

The sales figures for the R66 represent a turning point for the model—it marked the first year that Robinson Helicopter Company had sold more R66s than the popular R44 Raven II. Robinson chalked that up to the R66 hitting a sweet spot in its history. “At seven or eight years, [the models] kind of find their market niche and make people say, ‘Yes, I can do that job with this; I am making money with that,’ and all of a sudden, our sales go through this extreme growth period.” 

With more than 1,100 R66s delivered overall—and nearly 1.5 million hours on the aircraft’s Rolls-Royce RR300 turbine powerplant—the R66 is firmly in position as the bestselling light turbine helicopter in the world.

Billings Recover from 2020

Robinson also noted the increase in billings over 2020, from $102.8 million in 2021 to $151.8 million in 2021.

Deliveries outside of the U.S. regularly comprise the larger portion of Robinson sales. In 2021, the company reported 73 percent of its sales went outside of the country, with 27 percent to U.S. customers. “We seem to hover around 70 percent for export,” Robinson said. 

Top customers were those in Australia, Brazil, and Canada this time around.

Robinson Is Sustainable

The company has long been an advocate for pursuing sustainability—and that’s not just driven by the fact its home base is in Torrance, California. Robinson has been an early member of the test programs for unleaded avgas, which it supports wholeheartedly. The company has also tested diesel versions of its platforms with less success.

When asked about the promise of electric, Robinson answered, “It’s not there yet,” though he acknowledged the work they have done with a partner to drive towards an electric powerplant solution for the product line. 

In a nod to other current global concerns, Robinson noted that the company has not seen the same supply chain issues that have impacted other OEMs—likely a result of its extensive vertical integration.

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