Robinson Helicopter Company saw a return to prosperity in 2017 as the Torrance, California, company delivered 305 helicopters, led by the R44 model with 174 delivered, making it the best-selling helicopter in the world.
Kurt Robinson, the company’s president and son of founder Frank Robinson, said 77 turbine-powered R66s came off the line and, according to data supplied by Rolls-Royce, the R66 fleet logged approximately 185,000 hours in 2017, bringing the helicopter’s total fleet hours to more than 735,000. Cadet production, he said, was steady at 20, and R22 production came in at 34.
A full 80 percent of Robinson’s orders last year were from outside the United States as world economies gain momentum and demand for the small helicopters continues to rebound. Robinson said international sales were strong across the board, led by activity in China, South Africa, Australia and Russia.
Looking ahead to the remainder of this year, Robinson told attendees of last week’s Heli-Expo in Las Vegas that sales remain strong and the company’s outlook for 2018 is bullish.
“I really have nothing but positive things to say about this year,” he said at the company’s annual Heli-Expo press conference. “My forecast, if I had to give it, would probably be that this year will be similar to last year, perhaps a little bit better. We are just a little bit ahead in sales right now of where we were last year, but not a whole lot. And who knows what the economies are going to do during the year, so it can change at any time.”
Robinson pointed to a multitude of new options for the R44 and R66 as reasons for the company’s continued success. In 2017, Robinson added a heavy-duty inlet barrier filter and a lightweight lithium-Ion battery to its R66 options list. More recently, the company also announced a wire strike protection system and cargo hook for the R66.