Robinson Helicopter Success Amidst the Pandemic
The COVID pandemic has disrupted the typical day to day operations in the majority of the industries. However, amidst the pandemic, Robinson Helicopter started the year with its 13,000th airframe delivery. Since its establishment, Robinson Helicopter has delivered over 7,000 R44s, approximately 5,000 R22s, and 1,000 turbine-powered airframes. Frank Robinson has set his quality standards, and that’s why some of their 1980’s manufactured helicopters are still flying.
Robinson has remained steadfast in improving its fleet while keeping its clientele and employees happy. The company is California based and had to adhere to the inaugurated nine weeks lockdown in the state. During the lockdown period, Frank, through his leadership, helped the company to determine whether they are part of the essential service providers. After being classified under crucial service providers, Robinson started receiving employees back but in phases. Therefore, the pandemic has been a test for the corporation, especially their obligation to manufacture high-quality and affordable helicopters.
According to Robinson, maintaining production during the pandemic period wasn’t the main challenge. The challenge was separating employees and having them observe COVID protocols during their breaks. The company’s employees had a tradition of eating together. Therefore, Frank, together with the managerial team, had to help the employees to understand that COVID doesn’t take lunch breaks.
In the harshness of the pandemic, Robinson Helicopter manufactured 177 helicopters in 2020. The number was 19 helicopters less compared to 2019. Frank notes that the company manufactured 54 R66s, 18 R22s, and 105 R44s. Frank presented the company’s new polycarbonate windscreen during the Heli-Expo in the pursuit of advancing and upgrading the fleet. The windshield is impact-resistant. The company has also upgraded to the installation of cockpit video cameras.
Frank is hopeful for a better 2021. He notes that more orders for newly developed models are coming in. He believes that the helicopter industry is experiencing a global rebound.
Frank Robinson was born in 1930 in Carbonado, Washington. As a young boy, Frank developed a love for aircraft. That love and passion drove him to join the University of Washington for a BSME undergraduate degree. From 1957 to June 1973, Robinson worked for different aircraft companies, gaining necessary exposure and experience in the industry. He founded Robinson Helicopter in June 1973.