Robinson lead times stretch out to 2025

Robinson lead times stretch out to 2025

2-Oct-2023 Source:

Robinson Helicopter Co have sent their monthly email to their distributors around the world, advising of the lead time of each of their products – the ex-factory date for a purchaser placing an order today.  Multiple distributors have forwarded this email to as the lead times stretch out further into the future than ever before.

As at 1st October, the lead times are

  • R22 – 10 weeks
  • R44 Cadet – 2nd Quarter 2024
  • R44 I – 2nd Quarter 2024
  • R44 II – 1st Quarter 2025
  • R66 – 1st Quarter 2025

These projections from the OEM are based on their current committed production rates, and are always subject to change.   In turn, production rates are a function of a wide number of issues, including factory headcount, supply and availability of both raw materials and delivery rates from external suppliers.  OEMs routinely buy in items including engines, avionics, batteries, hoses, etc, but, in Robinson’s case, also specialist parts for law enforcement and broadcast variants that the company offers.  For other OEMs, these role equipment items are more often sourced by completion centres, and ordered specifically for each completion project.

Tracking back five years, the longest lead time estimate from Robinson in October 2018 for its five products was 4 months – and there are now two products where the lead time is 16-18 months.

While we do not know exactly why Robinson is in the situation it finds itself in, HeliHub frequently hears companies across our industry blaming “supply chain issues”. It is now time for the OEMs to both take the initiative with their suppliers to bring back reasonable delivery times, and also to make the investment to ramp up production rates.   That may mean making firmer commitments for larger batches of these bought-in items, increase headcount, specialist manufacturing training and so on.

Meantime, the longer delivery backlog times for Robinson R44 and R66 will also continue to impact valuations in the pre-owned market.  Owner-pilot purchasers are much less likely to have the patience of a 16-18 month delivery backlog than the larger operators and leasing companies have with twin turbine helicopters, creating opportunities for low-time aircraft to sell above list price.  That could, in turn, lead to opportunistic orders where someone places an order with the specific intention to sell at a profit any time from “production line slot” to “physical delivery”, possibly making the situation worse before it gets better again.

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