HeliHub.com has heard that Robinson Helicopter Company (RHC) has this week updated distributors in EASA countries on the latest situation of the ongoing R66 certification issues - which focus on the hydraulic servo. This situation has been dragging on for a long time, and some are even suggesting that a European manufacturer could be putting pressure on EASA for their own commercial reasons - we have no way of telling how true that suggestion is.
These distributors are estimated to be ready to place orders for over 100 R66s between them as soon as the ink is dry on the EASA documentation. A further 250 are likely to be ordered within the following 24 months.
We understand that RHC have had to take a different approach to achieve an acceptable Equivalent Level of Safety Finding (ELOS) for the hydraulic servo. Initially they had expected to base their case on the FAA acceptance, but this has not been forthcoming as the FAA do not believe that EASA will change their current position.
The main point in dispute is EASA's requirement to demonstrate a failure rate for the servo valve of less than 1 in 1,000,000,000 hours. As a comparison, the R44 hydraulic servos have accumulated approximately 26,000,000 hours in service without a single failure, and RHC had previously hoped that would be sufficient to argue their case for the R66.
Instead, RHC are now developing a reliability analysis to provide a calculated failure rate of less than 1 in 1,000,000,000 hours. New documentation has been put together for EASA, but are waiting for FAA concurrence before formally submitting it to EASA. They then need EASA's agreement to this approach, and subject to that will then need to provide them with the data that substantiates what they are proposing. Finally, EASA must then decide that the RHC data is acceptable.
Needless to say, nobody is yet willing to provide an estimated date for completion of the certification.
Meanwhile, various European based pilots are getting FAA licences, and at least 13 R66s are now in Europe, mostly in the UK with single examples known to be in France, Germany and Spain.
Jeremy Parkin - HeliHub.com
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