The second turbine-powered Robinson R66 made its first flight on February 18. It was an important milestone for a firm dealing with the affects of the economic downturn, said company president and founder Frank Robinson.
Robinson, like nearly all other aircraft manufacturers, is feeling the effects of the current economic decline. Its production has fallen from 17 to 12 helicopters a week, and Robinson said he expects that number to go lower before it improves.
“The only thing that we can count on to save this company is to get that R66 on the market as soon as possible,” he said, adding that’s likely to happen as R66 certification comes closer, later this year. However, he acknowledged that full-rate production probably won’t start until 2011.
In the meantime, the company is gaining market share in police and news markets with its piston-powered R44, as municipalities and television stations look for ways to cut costs, he said.
For information: www.robinsonheli.com