|Photo courtesy of Robinson Helicopter|
Robinson Helicopter delivered 347 aircraft in 2015, a modest 5.5% increase from the 329 it delivered in 2014, the company said last month.
The turbine-powered R66 led all models in delivery value with 117 delivered, up from 101 in 2014. The remaining deliveries were divided among Robinson’s piston models: 152 R44 Raven IIs, 44 Raven Is and 34 R22s. Robinson said employment at its Torrance, California, plant remains at 1,200 workers.
Company President Kurt Robinson said a strong U.S. dollar coupled with a sluggish global economy hampered further sales growth again last year. He noted that Robinson relies on the export market for more than 70% of its sales. Robinson expects the softness experienced in the second half of 2015 to carry over into this year.
Robinson plans to unveil more details on its new two-place R44 Cadet aimed at the training market at Heli-Expo in Louisville, Kentucky, early this month.
“We are very focused on a low-cost, reliable, economical helicopter that we think will make a good trainer and also a variety of missions that need only two people,” said Robinson. “There’s a lot of demand for that.”
Worldwide shipments of piston-engine helicopters for general aviation rose during 2015 despite flat or declining numbers for all other categories of fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, according to a report by the General Aviation Manufacturers Assn.
GAMA released its 2015 worldwide year-end report on aircraft shipments and billing numbers Feb. 10. It reported that piston rotorcraft shipments increased by 8.6% in 2015 to 279 from 257 the previous year, despite a 4.4% drop in shipments of all GA rotorcraft. Turbine rotorcraft shipments were responsible for the total decline, falling by 8.9% from 741 to 675.
GAMA’s report did not include figures for Russian Helicopters, India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. or Chinese manufacturers.
Robinson Helicopter made the majority of piston shipments at 230 units, according to the GAMA report. Hélicoptères Guimbal shipped 44 of its Cabri G2, and Enstrom Helicopter shipped five of its 280FX.
Of total rotorcraft shipments, Robinson also led the way with 347 units. The remaining list revealed each company’s most sought model. Airbus Helicopters shipped 279 units, 90 of which were H125s. Bell Helicopter shipped 175 units, 99 of which were 407s. Finmeccanica Helicopters shipped 60, 37 of which were AW139s. Sikorsky Aircraft shipped 29: 16 S-92s and 13 S-76s..
Of shipments made to military or government customers, Sikorsky led the way with 149 units, including 106 Black Hawks. Airbus shipped 81, including 31 H145/H145Ms. Bell shipped 48, split evenly between H-1s and V-22. NHIndustries shipped 35 NH90s. Finmeccanica shipped 32, including 14 AW139s.
Worldwide GA fixed-wing shipments were on par with rotorcraft, falling 4.6%. “The mixed 2015 year-end numbers among the various sectors reflect a market characterized by plummeting energy sector revenue, economic uncertainty, and currency fluctuations in key general aviation markets such as Brazil, Europe, Russia and China.” said GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce.
Rotor & Wing International is now accepting proposals for presentations to include in its 2016 Rotorcraft Technology Summit, scheduled for Sept. 19 to 20 in Fort Worth, Texas.
This year’s event will build on the success of R&WI’s Rotorcraft Certification Summit last October in Irving, Texas. That event featured panel discussions on challenges manufacturers, vendors and operators face in obtaining certification of new safety measures and aircraft capabilities and on FAA steps to streamline certification processes.
The theme of 2016’s summit is “The Business of Technology.” Topics under consideration for the Rotorcraft Technology Summit include advanced technologies, the state of low-level navigation and weather infrastructure, the benefits of instrument flight rules for a broader range of helicopter operations, certification mandates for new helicopter equipment and current uses and established benefits of flight data monitoring in helicopter fleets.
Organizers welcome proposals to cover topics in these areas and suggestions for additional topics to address during the 1.5-day event. Send your proposals to Editor-in-Chief James T. McKenna at email@example.com.
The 2016 Rotorcraft Technology Summit will be held in the Hilton Fort Worth on Main Street in downtown Fort Worth, just a short walk to the vibrant Sundance Square entertainment district.
About 75 individuals, industry executives and regulatory agency decision makers came together Oct. 27, 2015 at the Sheraton Dallas/Forth Worth Airport Hotel in Irving, Texas, to participate in discussions and promote ideas for possible improvements to the certification process. Attendees included senior leaders of the FAA Rotorcraft Directorate, representatives of other FAA offices, executives from international aircraft and engine manufacturers, leaders of maintenance and modification companies and other services, and helicopter operators.
Transport Canada’s drone regulations proposed to go into effect this year would vary based on the risks of operating in a given location and will not distinguish between recreational and commercial operators, according to the agency.
The new rules would retain the Special Flight Operations Certificate process for operators of drones weighing more than 55 lb (25 kg). But operators of drones weighing fewer than that would be exempt from the process, potentially easing the agency’s workload and reducing the delay for applicants.
In a May 2015 Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA), Transport Canada said a rapid increase in applications for special certificates—granted to commercial unmanned aircraft operators on a case-by-case basis—is one reason it decided to revise existing regulations.
“The growth of the UAV industry has resulted in growing numbers of SFOC applications to Transport Canada,” said the notice. In 2014, Transport Canada said, it 1,672 such certificates for drones, compared to 945 in 2013 and 345 in 2012.
Other reasons it cited included promoting safety without constraining innovation and being on par with rules proposed by other countries, such as the U.S.
From the applicant’s perspective, another notable change is that the new rules would depend on where drones are operating rather than whether they are commercial. For example, stricter flight training qualifications and operating rules would be required to fly drones near aerodromes and major cities where they present great risk.
Under such a system, even hobbyists might be classified according to the proposal as “Small UAVs (Complex Operations)” if they operate within 5 nm of “cities, towns or villages.” In that case, they also would have to obtain a pilot permit along with meeting other requirements.
H160 Second Prototype Flies
The H160’s second prototype flew Jan. 27 at the manufacturer’s facility in Marignane, France, according to Airbus Helicopters, which added that 2016 will be a busy flight test year for the program to produce the medium twin. The second prototype is the first H160 to fly with the 1,100-to-1,300-shp (800-960-kW) Turbomeca Arrano 1A engines. Prototype No. 1 is powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada’s PW210 engines; Airbus decided in 2015 not to offer those engines on production H160s. Airbus said prototype No. 1 had accumulated more than 75 hr of flight testing by the end of 2015, opening the aircraft’s flight envelope and validating some performance features and handling qualities. Airbus aims to introduce the H160 to service in 2018.