21 Sep 2018
New tricks for the R66
Since certifying the R66 Turbine helicopter in 2010, Robinson Helicopter Co. has been steadily expanding the aircraft’s capabilities and mission sets. It certified an R66 Police Helicopter in 2012, the R66 Turbine Marine with pop-out floats in 2014, and an electronic news gathering model last year. Along the way, it has also certified a range of avionics and equipment for the aircraft, including glass cockpits from Garmin and Aspen Avionics, and the Genesys HeliSAS stability augmentation system and autopilot.
At HAI Heli-Expo 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada, earlier this year, Robinson showed off its latest upgrades for the R66: new touchscreen Garmin avionics and, for utility operators, a long-awaited cargo hook kit.
Robinson has been promising a cargo hook kit for quite some time now, but as company president Kurt Robinson explained, it kept getting sidelined by other projects. While an Onboard Systems cargo hook kit has been available for the R66 since 2015, the factory kit comes with a slightly higher weight limit and some premium features, notably provisions to enable solo flight from the left seat.
Flying the line
The Robinson cargo hook kit includes a small fan to prevent the optional bubble window from fogging
Robinson has clearly put a lot of thought and effort into designing its cargo hook kit. This is a product optimized for serious utility operators, not someone who has to sling a load once or twice a year. The kit includes an Onboard Systems cargo hook rated to a maximum load of 1,200 pounds (545 kilograms), which is a nice bump over the 1,015 lb. (460 kg) to which Onboard Systems’ own kit is certified. The Robinson kit includes electrical and mechanical releases for both pilots, as well as remote external control.
The cargo hook kit also includes supplemental gauges and a load cell display in the left door sill
However, the real differentiators for the factory kit are the left-side pilot-in-command provisions. In the standard R66, solo flight is permitted from the right seat only, but the cargo hook kit includes an upgraded left-side cyclic with hydraulic and radio switches, plus a left-side start button, which together enable solo flight from the left seat.
The enhancements don’t stop there. A panel at the left door sill contains supplemental engine torque and gas temperature gauges and a load cell display so that the pilot can track essential parameters during vertical reference work. This panel also includes an emergency manual hook release, in the form of a knob rather than a conventional T-handle (a similar manual release is located between the seats, accessible to the co-pilot).
Another feature of the kit is an Onboard Systems cargo hook rated to a maximum load of 1,200 lbs
The kit includes some additional smart touches, such as a fuel status light to indicate approximately 12 gallons of usable fuel remaining — a welcome reminder before the standard five-gallon low fuel caution light. There are also interior hard points at the forward door posts for attaching safety tethers or harnesses during doors-off operation.
The standard kit adds approximately 9.5 lb. (4.3 kg) to the R66. Optional equipment includes forward doors with oversized bubble windows (12.5 lb./7.5 kg) and six-inch-diameter cargo mirrors mounted at the front of the skid tubes (1 lb./0.45 kg).
The Garmin Display Unit (GDU) 1060 Txi is a high-resolution, 10.6-inch touchscreen display that upgrades Garmin’s popular G500H flight deck. It can be paired with a Garmin GTN 750 GPS/nav/comm unit, plus a Genesys HeliSAS.
Also available is a smaller, seven-inch GDU 700L Txi display that pairs with any Garmin GTN 6xx model in a compact console. This landscape-oriented display was designed specifically for Robinson with the R44 in mind, but it can also be ordered for the R66.
While the 1060 Txi panel takes up more space than it strictly needs to, pilots who learned on steam gauges will likely feel comfortable with the analog redundancy
One thing pilots really love about the display is the vertical speed indicator (VSI), which was custom-developed with Robinson’s input. Presented as a partial semicircle, it has a moving needle that quickly conveys trend — just like on a conventional analog gauge, only more compact.
Shown is an R66 panel featuring the 10.6-inch Garmin Display Unit 1060 Txi.
All the innovations are great examples of how Robinson continues to develop its products with customers’ needs front of mind.