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and his engineering team, resulting in a successful design. Two years later the helicopter received FAA certification. The first production R-44 was deliv- ered in February of 1993 (Timeline, n.d.). A newscopter version of the R- 44 was introduced in 1997, followed by a police version a month later. In October of 2001, the 1000th R-44 left the assembly line. The R-44 has proven to be not only a popular model but a capable one as well. In 2001, Jennifer Murray flew an R-44 to become the first woman to fly a helicopter around the world, solo. Then in 2002, Quentin Smith and Steve Brooks flew an R-44 to the North Pole, making it the first pis- ton powered helicopter to do so. Three years later, Smith and Brooks were the first to do the same thing at the South Pole. By September of 2006, the 3000th R-44 was delivered and just over a year later Robinson produced its 8000th helicopter. Over the years Frank Robinson has worked hard to improve on the initial R-22 and R-44


designs. Improvements to the R-22 include several engine upgrades which have increased gross weight and hover performance and an auxiliary fuel sys- tem which increased range and endurance by 65 percent. The R-44 has had several engine upgrades and redesigned rotor blades giving it better performance at altitude and a higher gross weight.


In the early 2000s, the R-44 became the first American helicopter certified by several foreign governments including Russia and Japan. To bring the small, low cost design that had become so popular in the U.S. to other countries, Frank Robinson began to look for a way around the shortage of 100 low lead fuel. This type of fuel is needed to power the piston engine in the R-22 and R-44, but it is much harder to find outside of the United States. To get around this shortage, Robinson began an extensive program to develop a light weight diesel engine. Despite the effort put into this endeav-


or, the weight of the engine could not be decreased enough for it to feasibly power a small helicopter. Undeterred, Frank Robinson partnered with Rolls Royce to modify their Allison 250 tur- bine engine for use on a small helicop- ter. Ultimately the partnership resulted in the RR300 engine and the five seat R-66 helicopter. The RR300 engine was not dependent on the 100 low lead fuel that had become increasingly hard- er to get in foreign countries and could burn the much more readily available Jet A fuel. The design for the R-66 began in 2005. In November of 2007, 77 year old Frank Robinson was once again at the controls for some of the test flights. After guiding his company through the certification process one last time, Frank Robinson retired as the President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Robinson Helicopter Company in August of 2010. The R-66 was certified by the FAA in October of 2010, production deliveries began the following month.


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