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Robinson R66

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Role Light utility and trainer helicopter
Manufacturer Robinson Helicopter Company
Designer Frank D. Robinson
First flight 7 November 2007[1]
Introduction 2010 (FAA certification)
Status In production
Produced 2007–present
Number built 1,000 as of August 2020[2]
Developed from Robinson R44

The Robinson R66 is a helicopter designed and built by Robinson Helicopter Company. It has five seats, a separate cargo compartment and is powered by a Rolls-Royce RR300 turboshaft engine. The R66 is slightly faster and smoother than the piston-powered Robinson R44 from which it is derived. The R66 received both type and production certificates from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on October 25, 2010.[3] The R66 is a larger and turbine powered derivative of the Robinson R22 and R44 family of helicopters.


R66 Cockpit controls

Announced in 2007, the R66 was designed to be the company's first turbine-powered product and to extend its product range to compete with larger helicopters manufactured by Bell Helicopter and Eurocopter. Most of the R66 design is based on the earlier piston-engine R44.

Robinson started taking orders for the R66 in February, 2010. It went into preliminary production in 2010, and full production in 2011. The existing two-seat R22 and four-seat R44 continued in production.[4] A four-seat police version of the R66 has entered production with a forward looking infrared (FLIR) camera system, searchlight, and external public address (PA) system as standard equipment.[5]

In 2012, Robinson delivered 191 R66s while Robinson's competitors in the light single turbine sector delivered only 40 units between them. About 70 percent of the R66 production is exported.[6] In 2014, the production rate slowed to about two R66s per week[7] for a total of 101 for the year.[8] In 2015, Robinson produced three R66s per week. RHC has contracted with Rolls-Royce to supply 100 RR300 turbines per year for 10 years.[9]

Russia certified the R66 in March 2013,[10] while Canada certified it in June 2013.[11] European EASA and Chinese CAAC certifications were granted in the second quarter of 2014.[12][13][14]

The R66 Turbine Marine with pop-out floats was FAA certified in November 2014. A journalist pilot described ground landing with them as "better than the standard R66". Retrofit floats are not available for the standard R66.[15]

A cargo hook was approved in the EU and the United States in 2015.[16]

In December 2015 Robinson announced it had sold 700 R66s.[17]

On July 13, 2017, Robinson announced certification of the R66 Turbine Newscopter (R66 ENG).[18]

On 25 January 2017 Robinson announced that it had delivered its 12,000th aircraft, an R66 to a charter and tour operator, Fly Karoo Air Services.[19]

On 17 July 2017, Robinson introduced the TB17 lithium-ion phosphate battery as optional equipment. The battery weighs 16 lb (7.3 kg), which is lighter than the previous 42 lb (19 kg) standard and 52 lb (24 kg) high capacity batteries.[20]

The company delivered the 1,000th R66 in August 2020.[2]

In the 2020s the company released a redesigned tail empennage and it was approved by the FAA.[21][22]


R66 Turbine production model
Robinson R44 (left) and R66 (right)

The R66 is a single-engined helicopter with two-bladed main and tail rotors, and a fixed skid landing gear. The R66 is constructed from advanced composites, aluminum alloy (sheet), and chromoly steel. Like the R44, the R66 has both electromechanical instruments and optional digital glass cockpit.[23]

The R66 is the first Robinson helicopter with a cargo hold; the hold carries up to 300 pounds (140 kg).[24]

The RR300 engine is more compact and lighter than the Lycoming O-540 six-cylinder piston engine that powers the R44—the R66 has a lower empty weight than the R44.[24] The RR300 has a simplified single-stage centrifugal compressor which makes it less expensive and is expected to result in lower maintenance costs.[25]

The turbine burns Jet-A fuel at a rate of 23 US gallons (87 L) per hour, compared to 15 US gallons (57 L) of avgas per hour for the O-540.[24]

At Heli Expo 2018, Robinson introduced a cargo hook as an optional equipment. This modification increases the aircraft's maximum gross weight from 2,700 to 2,900 lb (1,200 to 1,300 kg).[26] It is currently available in two variants.

Robinson redesigned the tail in the 2020s to a symmetrical horizontal stabilizer, to hopefully reduce the danger of mast bumping accidents, such as during low-G conditions maneuvers. This type of maneuver is more dangerous in a two bladed helicopter, and is warned against, however, rare but tragic accidents have lead to further investigation and improvements, due to the typically catastrophic nature of such incidents.[21] The FAA approved the new empennage, which should improve roll stability when the helicopter is in flight at high speed.[22]

Ground Handling[edit]

Robinson Helicopter Tow Cart Connected to R66

R66’s are equipped with wheel mounts toward the rear of the skids, one on each side, for attachment of removable wheels. The wheels must be removed prior to flight. These brackets are slightly behind the helicopter center of gravity so when the wheels are installed, the helicopter sits nose low. The wheel assembly has a pivot pin which is inserted into the skid-mounted bracket and then rotated over center to lift the rear of the skids about 2 inches leaving the front of the skids on the ground. The helicopter can be moved by pulling down on the tail to lift the front of the skids off the ground. Because of the size and weight of the R66 and the height of the tail from the ground, as compared to the R22, it is extremely difficult if not impossible for a single person to move the helicopter this way. Another person can help by pushing on the rear of the engine compartment.

R66’s with fixed floats or deployed pop-out emergency floats must have wheels installed under the skids as the bracket is not accessible.

All models and years of the R66 include a ¾” diameter tow ball mounted on the bottom of the fuselage, near the front and offset slightly to the left. A tow cart or tug can be engaged with the ball and then used to lift the front of the helicopter to clear the skids from the ground after the wheels are installed and rotated to lift the rear of the skids. This makes it possible for a single person to move the helicopter, even over significant distances or not-level surfaces.

Tow carts are available with a variety of features. There exist manual versions which place the ball mating device behind the wheels so the operator engages the ball then pushes down on the handle to lift the nose. Others provide a repurposed car-style hydraulic jack or an electric jack to lift the nose.

Tow carts are available with no motive power, a gas engine or one or two electric motors operated from one or two batteries. Some of the non-powered tow carts are set up to be towed such as behind a golf cart or quad cycle. One manufacturer offered a modified pallet jack.

The other option for ground handling is a landing platform which is large enough for the helicopter to safely land on, has wheels underneath and can be towed between the hanger and take-off location. These are heavy and must be towed with a vehicle. Platforms are commonly used with R66’s.


R66 in 2013 in the United Kingdom
R66 parked in a field, 2011
Robinson R66 flying in the French Alps, 2015
Tail view of an R66, 2011

The aircraft is operated by law enforcement, companies and private individuals.



Data from Manufacturer[30][31]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Capacity: 4 passengers or 1,200 lb (540 kg) external load[26]
  • Length: 29 ft 6 in (8.99 m)
  • Width: 4 ft 10 in (1.47 m)
  • Height: 11 ft 5 in (3.48 m)
  • Empty weight: 1,290 lb (585 kg)
  • Gross weight: 2,700 lb (1,225 kg)
  • Fuel capacity: 73.6 US gallons (279 L)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Rolls-Royce RR300 turboshaft, 224 shp (167 kW) continuous, 270 shp (200 kW) takeoff (5 minutes)
  • Main rotor diameter: 33 ft (10 m)
  • Tail rotor Diameter: 5 ft (1.52 m)


  • Cruise speed: 110 kn (130 mph, 200 km/h)
  • Never exceed speed: 140 kn (160 mph, 260 km/h)
  • Range: 350 nmi (400 mi, 650 km)
  • Service ceiling: 14,000 ft (4,300 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,000 ft/min (5.1 m/s)
  • Fuel consumption: 23 US gallons (87 L) per hour[24]

See also[edit]

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists


  1. ^ Chase, Mike (February 1, 2014). "Aircraft Comparative Analysis—Robinson R66". AvBuyer. Retrieved June 8, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Cook, Marc (August 11, 2020). "Robinson Delivers 1000th R66". AVweb. Archived from the original on August 12, 2020. Retrieved August 12, 2020.
  3. ^ Thurber, Matt (October 26, 2010). "R66 Receives Simultaneous FAA Type, Production OK". AINonline. AIN Publications. Retrieved October 27, 2010.
  4. ^ Goyer, Robert (June 7, 2009). "R66 Robinson Approaches". Flying. Retrieved May 28, 2009.
  5. ^ "FAA Certifies R66 Police Helicopter" (PDF). Robinson News. Vol. 19, no. 1. Robinson Helicopter Company. February 15, 2013. p. 3. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  6. ^ Huber, Mark; Dubois, Thierry (August 3, 2013). "Bell Reveals more on 'short light single'". AINonline. AIN Publications. Retrieved December 11, 2013.
  7. ^ Parkin, Jeremy (July 30, 2014). "R66 production slows, pushing lead time to six months". HeliHub. Retrieved August 4, 2014.
  8. ^ "2016 General Aviation Statistical Databook & 2017 Industry Outlook" (PDF). General Aviation Manufacturers Association. 2017: 17. Retrieved June 8, 2017. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. ^ Huber, Mark (March 3, 2015). "Robinson Boosts Production as Sales Surge, Strikes Deal for 1,000 Rolls-Royce Turboshafts". AINonline. AIN Publications. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
  10. ^ Drwiega, Andrew (March 28, 2013). "Russia Certifies Robinson R66". Rotor & Wing. Retrieved June 8, 2014.
  11. ^ "Robinson Scores R66 Type Certificate from Transport Canada". Rotor & Wing. June 3, 2013. Retrieved June 8, 2014.
  12. ^ Type Certificate Data Sheet (PDF) (Report). EASA. December 11, 2015. p. 3. EASA.IM.R.507. Retrieved June 8, 2017.
  13. ^ Head, Elan (May 5, 2014). "Robinson R66 receives EASA certification". Vertical. MHM Publishing. Retrieved May 8, 2014.
  14. ^ "China certifies Robinson R66". Vertical. MHM Publishing. Robinson Helicopter Company. May 8, 2014. Retrieved May 8, 2014.
  15. ^ Maher, Guy R. (December 4, 2014). "Robinson unveils R66 Turbine Marine". Vertical. MHM Publishing. Retrieved December 5, 2014.
  16. ^ "DART R66 cargo hook now FAA and EASA approved". Vertical. MHM Publishing. DART Aerospace. March 26, 2015. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
  17. ^ "Robinson to Deliver 700th R66 Helicopter" (Press release). Torrance, CA: Robinson Helicopter Company. December 18, 2015. Retrieved December 21, 2015.
  18. ^ "FAA Certifies Robinson R66 Turbine Newscopter". robinsonheli.com. July 27, 2017. Retrieved April 23, 2018.
  19. ^ "Robinson Helicopter Company Delivers 12,000th Helicopter - Robinson Helicopter Company". robinsonheli.com. January 25, 2017. Retrieved April 23, 2018.
  20. ^ "Lithium-ion Battery Now Available for Robinso R66". robinsonheli.com. July 17, 2017. Retrieved April 23, 2018.
  21. ^ a b "Robinson reveals redesigned empennage for R66 Turbine helicopter". Vertical Mag. Retrieved April 29, 2024.
  22. ^ a b Godlewski, Meg (September 7, 2023). "FAA Approves Robinson R66 Empennage Configuration". FLYING Magazine. Retrieved April 29, 2024.
  23. ^ Maher, Guy R. (March 10, 2014). "Staying the course". Vertical. MHM Publishing. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  24. ^ a b c d Larson, George C. (March 1, 2011). "Robinson: Ready for the Rebound". Aviation Week. Retrieved March 6, 2011.
  25. ^ "Aero-TV Checks Out The Robinson R66: Turbine Power, Familiar Face". Aero-TV. Aero-News Network. March 9, 2009. Retrieved May 28, 2009.
  26. ^ a b "wR66 Turbine Optional Cargo Hook Carries Loads up to 1200 lb". robinsonheli.com. Retrieved April 23, 2018.
  27. ^ "Helikopter BNPB Mendarat di Lapang Sindangsari Sukabumi, BPBD: Kunjungan Asintel KASAD". sukabumiupdate.com (in Indonesian). July 16, 2020. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  28. ^ "Dialah Yang Selama Ini Terbang Mengitari Mega Dan Bumi Kalsel". koranbanjar.net (in Indonesian). September 7, 2019. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  29. ^ Mornington-Sanford, Richard (December 2012). "Nigerian Air Force take delivery of their first two Robinson R66 (Turbine) helicopters". Mornington Sanford Aviation. Retrieved April 14, 2013.
  30. ^ "R66 Turbine & R66 Turbine Marine". Robinson Helicopter Company. Retrieved June 8, 2017.
  31. ^ R66 Pilot's Operating Handbook (PDF). Robinson Helicopter Company. October 25, 2010. Retrieved June 8, 2017.

External links[edit]