Photo by Frank Lombardi
The Robinson Helicopter R66 could be the next helicopter to fly with a certificated lithium-ion battery, Robinson President Kurt Robinson told R&WI Wednesday. Working with Mid-Continent Instrument Co. Inc.’s True Blue Power, Robinson said he hopes for FAA certification prior to Helicopter Assn. International's Heli-Expo in March.
Among the several benefits lithium ion power has over the standard, one that stands out to Robinson is weight savings.
“Our standard battery weighs 36 pounds, and most people are opting for the heavy-duty battery, which is over 50 pounds,” said Robinson. “So if you go from over 50 pounds to about 16 [for a lithium-ion battery], it’s quite a weight savings. The lithium battery is pretty powerful, so we’re pretty excited about that.”
In 2016, True Blue and St. Louis Helicopter, LLC, received an FAA supplemental type certificate (STC) for the TB17 lithium-ion battery on the R44. It is trumpeted by True Blue as the first FAA STC for lithium-ion battery use as a primary electrical power source, including engine start. True Blue recently announced the same battery to be standard equipment on the Bell Helicopter 505 Jet Ranger X. The battery offers a 45% weight savings, as well as up to 90% reduced maintenance cost compared to older lead-acid and nickel-cadmium options.