Robinson Helicopter Company is family-owned helicopter manufacturing based in Torrance, California. The company was established in 1973 by Frank Robinson as a manufacturer of high-quality, cheap, and effective, lightweight rotorcrafts. The company’s target for its rotorcrafts was the general aviation market.
Robinson Helicopter started manufacturing rotorcrafts immediately, and by 1975, its prototype, the R22, was already undergoing flight tests. Finally, in 1979, the R22 was certified by the Federal Aviation Administration and issued with a Type Certificate. After the successful certification, the company announced that the R22 helicopter was to be sold at a base price of $40,000.
R22 was an instant success and put Robinson Helicopter Company on the map of rotorcraft manufacturers. The 2-place piston rotorcraft featured a very simple design, low maintenance, and acquisition costs, making it ideal for many private helicopter enthusiasts and owners. The mode also became a go-to for many flight schools due to the low operational costs. By 1981, the company had delivered over 100 R22 helicopters.
In 198, Robinson Helicopter received an FAA Production Certificate that allowed the company to carry out helicopter testing and inspection. The certificate was followed closely by the announcement of R22HP. The new Model was featured several modifications of the original R22 featuring more powerful engines and high maximum flight attitudes. The advanced Model was to be sold at $59,850.
While R22HP was still under manufacturing, the company in 1982 announced the establishment of a Safety course for flight instructors. The course was announced due to the high uptake of R22’s and the increasing need for a standardized training methodology at flight schools.
By 1992, the company was already a leader in the field of lightweight, cheap rotorcrafts. Then, the company announced the R44 as a part of the continuing design and engine power modification. The R44, which came to be known as R44 Raven I, was an advancement of the R22 Model but with a larger and powerful Lycoming 0-540 engine. The R44 also increased the number of passengers from two to four. Raven I was followed by R44 Raven II, which featured adjustable standard hydraulic controls and pedals.
The R44 Raven II became the predecessor for the R66, a 5-seater, lightweight rotorcraft that allowed it to land on helipads easily. To date, the R44 and R66 are the most sold models and have been configured to suit different purposes, including for use by police.