Due to the ongoing delays in the European certification of the Robinson R66, Robinson dealers across the continent are calling for a meeting with two EASA representatives - namely Certification Director Dr. Norbert Lohl and the R66 validation project coordinator, Volker Arnsmeier.
The move - led by British distributor Sloane Helicopters - is out of sheer frustration at the intransigence shown by EASA - and the following text from the letter clearly shows this - "EASA’s ongoing position in this matter is adversely affecting the trade of many companies within its member states at a time when the helicopter industry needs whatever boost is possible. We would never wish to see safety compromised but fail to see why EASA continue to refuse certification."
We have covered the situation in the past on HeliHub.com - in this article we noted that the main point in dispute is EASA’s requirement to demonstrate a failure rate for the hydraulic servo valve of less than 1 in 1,000,000,000 hours (yes, we got that right, one BILLION hours). This is clearly a ridiculous figure, when you consider the huge Robinson R44 fleet has accumulated approximately 26,000,000 hours in service without a single failure, and the R66 requirement is nearly 40 times that figure. Robinson had been hoping that the R44 experience would be sufficient to argue their case for the R66.
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.
More than one of the distributors are also pointing a finger of culpability at Eurocopter. They see the multi-national manufacturer very concerned for the future of their entry level EC120 model (see our comparison article) and thus having a vested interest in blocking the R66. The new model is already showing such market interest that the production figure will overtake the EC120's production total before the end of 2013. Although this allegation is entirely unproven, if it was ever shown that Eurocopter had used undue influence in blocking or delaying the R66, they will have done irreparable damage to their brand.
Jeremy Parkin - HeliHub.com
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