Robinson Helicopter Company has announced that, four years after initial Federal Aviation Administration certification, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has issued its type certificate for the Robinson R66 Turbine helicopter.
Robinson Helicopter Company president Kurt Robinson told Vertical on May 1 that Robinson had not yet received EASA certification for the R66. However, the type certificate was apparently signed on April 30, 2014. In a follow-up email, Robinson stated, “Yesterday, May 1, 2014 was a European holiday and EASA was closed and unable to complete the final process until today.”
The certification adds EASA member states to the now over 50 countries (including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Russia, South Africa, and the U.S.) that have certified the R66, and marks an important milestone for Robinson, as two-thirds of the company’s sales have historically come from foreign customers.
The four-year EASA certification process was a long and contentious one, with the company challenging EASA certification fees it described as “fundamentally unfair.”
Earlier this year, Robinson failed in a case lodged with the EASA Board of Appeal, in which it asked EASA to determine an “appropriate and fair flat type acceptance fee” for the R66. Robinson claimed that EASA’s fees were disproportionately high given the R66’s price point and relative simplicity of design. It noted at the time that EASA was charging more than 10 times what Transport Canada had charged for a similar process of certification.
The Board of Appeal, however, found that EASA had adhered to its fees regulation, and dismissed Robinson’s appeal.
With certification finally in place, Robinson can deliver its current backlog of European orders and focus on strengthening its presence in the European market, the company said in a press release. There are presently 16 R66 service centers approved in Europe, of which 13 are dealers.
Currently priced at US$839,000, Robinson designed the five-place R66 to be a mid-size, low-maintenance turbine helicopter "that would perform as well or better than its competitors, but at a lower cost." To date, Robinson has delivered over 500 R66s and estimates total fleet hours at over 160,000. In response to customer feedback, glass and touch-screen avionics were recently added to the R66’s options list.