Robinson Helicopter Co registered serial number 0690 on 9th October (it’s N959BC, if you want to check). This is a landmark achievement in the five-seat single-turbine world as it is the point where the total passes the production to date of the EC120 (now H120). See also our comparison article between these two types from May 2012.
At the latter’s main production line in France, the most recent delivery has been serial 1690 to Heli Lausanne in Switzerland as HB-ZRO. There is an additional H120 line in China that does not appear to have produced more than 20 yet for the local military, and we are discounting that from the calculations here.
To move on with the comparison, it is not quite 60 months since the R66 was FAA certified on 25th October 2010 and deliveries started. Airbus Helicopters – Eurocopter as it was then – had the EC120 certified on 16th June 1997, some 220 months ago. So in 27% of the time it took the H120 line, the R66 has achieved the same number, 690 units. What must be more concerning for Airbus Helicopters is that the H120 line in Marignane has only produced 45 units during those 60 months.
It’s thus possible that they only reason they keep the H120 line open is that it would be serious loss of face to close it – the H125/H130 line is significantly more successful, of course. Bell are expecting to get certification of their five-seat 505 in Q2 of 2016, and claim over 300 orders at a base price of $1 Million. The base price of the H120 is roughly double that of the Bell 505, and the R66 15% less. Industry observers consider Bell will be producing their 505 at a considerable loss to have a base price of $1 Million, a figure HeliHub.com checked out with Bell only last week.
It is interesting to note that customers in Brazil and Russia account for one third of the R66 production line – our research suggests 136 R66s have been sold into Brazil and a further 85 into Russia. With the Brazilian market reaching a plateau of late, perhaps the R66 surge will slow down its pace a little?
Enstrom are also in this market with their 4-seat 480, and that production line has so far produced 230 aircraft in the the 263 months since certification in November 1993. Enstrom has produced almost 100 480s in the last 60 months, double the output from the H120 line, and the majority of those sales have been military including 30 to Japan and 16 to each of Thailand and Venezuela.
To complete the picture, MD have built five MD520Ns in the last 60 months, along with 21 500E and 50 new 530Fs – with the last of those figures including 12 military airframes to each of Iraq, Kurdistan and Saudi Arabia.
Five Year production summary
- Robinson R66 – 690 aircraft
- Enstrom 480 – 100, including 62 military
- MD Helicopters 500E/530F/520N – 76, including 36 military
- Airbus Helicopters H120 – 65 aircraft – 45 in France and 20 military in China
- Bell B505 – certification awaited 2016 Q2
Congratulations to the Robinson team in Torrance, California
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
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