4.1.2024 – 00:55z

The Robinson R66 Helicopter Descends into MSFS

The ubiquitous Robinson R66 Helicopter has landed in MSFS for all to enjoy. Brought to us by Cowan Simulation, the makers of many quality helicopters for this sim. The R66 Helicopter is used worldwide as both a trainer and a tourism helicopter. It has been adapted to many utility functions around the world.

What is the R66 Helicopter?

The Robinson R66 Helicopter is an advanced turbine-powered version of the Robinson line of helicopters. In fact, the R44 and R66 real helicopters are the company’s top-selling helicopters to date. Once Rolls Royce developed the RR3300 turbine engine, Frank Robinson was right there designing the turbine version of the R66. It was released after FAA certification in 2010.

The R66 Turbine and Turbine Marine helicopters are reliable, economical, and easy to maintain. It has a two-blade rotor system, legendary T-bar cyclic, and many options for the cockpit panel. The R66 operates on Jet-A fuel. The Marine version is equipped with pop-out floats, which are utilized in 2 to 3 seconds. The R66 holds five passengers and a pilot in comfort with great visibility all around.

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Frank Robinson’s vision was to produce the world’s highest quality, most reliable helicopters in the most efficient, cost-effective way possible. Cowan Simulation is smart to select the R66 Turbine for the MSFS sim market. It could become as popular in the sim world as it is in the real world.

The Cowan Sim Version of the R66 Helicopter

This is the latest helicopter project for MSFS from the legendary sim developer. The very successful 500E and the 206 are a testament to the quality and realism of their helicopters in the past. The recently developed Bell 222B was also previewed here. Cowan Simulation flight models are pilot-tested, approved, and developed with the Microsoft Flight Simulator SDK. No external flight model/dynamics or programs are used to provide a seamless user experience. The look of the R66 is breathtaking as it utilizes accurate 3D modeling and 4/8K PBR textures. One of the big draws to the helicopter projects by Cowan Simulation is the realism they add to the helicopters, like exhaust blur FX, downwash FX, and vibration animations.

Other Outstanding Features:

The R66 from Cowan has many features that might not be evident on your first flight. The flight dynamics, for example, are custom-coded to be realistic with dynamic weight options. Simply adding weights to the weight-and-balance screen will put a 3D-animated passenger in that seat. Adding weight to the “side basket” does the same as adding the floats option. The R66 has persistence for saving weight and balance and for options for the next flight. The realistic startup procedures and the sound pack make you feel that you are really there.

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Doors are optional, and so are the avionics packages. You can configure two main cockpit consoles and a variety of GNS/GTN options, including the 530, 650, GX3, and analog. All circuit breakers work, and so does the working A/C.


The most important part of any sim project is how flexible and realistic the controls are. For helicopters, controls are more complex. Many simmers have a stick or a yoke and some kind of throttle quadrant. A helicopter requires more than that, making it more difficult to handle (and learn). Conventional helicopters have a left-handed stick near their left thigh called a “collective”. This important function raises and lowers the helicopter. The pilot also has a twist-grip throttle on this collective handle. Cowan Simulation and MSFS allow for this separation of the two (now), and this is utilized in the R66. It can also be ignored by those who don’t have or want this function. Secondly, the pilot controls pitch, and bank angle through the stick called the “cyclic,” used by the right hand, with a few more buttons on it to help trim in all directions. Finally, yaw is controlled by the floor-mounted foot pedals, similar to rudder pedals, called the “anti-torque” pedals, which let you turn left or right even while in a hover.

All these realistic controls in real life are available in the R66 from Cowan. If you have the popular Virpil line of hardware at home, you can mount a collective on your chair and use your stick for the cyclic. You can also use the new handheld cockpit controller from Yawman, called the Arrow, with its helicopter profile.

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Although the CowanSim R66 Helicopter doesn’t come with a full Pilot’s Operating Handbook (POH), it does come with a manual to get you up and running with all your controls in order. It focuses on the sim version and how to get it configured. If you need more details than that, you must web-search for an R66 POH. CowanSim also supplies a checklist card similar to the one you see in the sim. You can have both of these documents and other CowanSim helicopter documents for free here.

The Cost?

All that we describe here is available for purchase now at $29.99 on the Cowan Simulation website. This isn’t just a pretty face that looks good in the sky. This fully-functioning helicopter simulation allows you to practice lessons, take scenic flights, and hover to your heart’s content. Every single switch and button has been simulated, as are the various avionics packages. Cowan has promised that all updates to this product will be free. This will satisfy the “Hover Lover” in you.

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