Efforts to win ELOS clearance for the hydraulic system have absorbed company resources and delayed R66 upgrade projects such as floats and a cargo hook. However, Robinson says “the number one project is completing certification for the other countries. Hopefully we’ve given them all they need. But if Canada, Russia and EASA come back to us we’ll work with them.”
The company has completed all the testing required for the float upgrade. “We hope the FAA will come out and do tests in the early spring. Behind that is developing the cargo hook for the R66. We’re very pleased with that system and we brought pilots down from Canada to help us with that,” Robinson says.
The plan is to certify the aircraft for operation with the hook from either the left- or right-hand seat. Additional upgrades in the works include improved cockpit avionics for all three models, and a fuel bladder to replace the existing fuel tank arrangement in the R22. Robinson is also working with Lycoming, the manufacturer of the piston engines powering the R22 and R44, as well as with the FAA, to clear the use of unleaded aviation fuel. “We feel strongly about getting unleaded fuel approval for use in our piston engines. Hopefully by the first half of the year we’ll be operating on unleaded fuel. Environmentally it is the right thing to do and it kind of bothers me that it hasn’t been done,” he adds.