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Thread: What future is there for autogyros?

  1. #1
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    What future is there for autogyros?

    On their way out or in? What do people think?

  2. #2
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    There is plenty of potential in Autogyros and they are certainly still being made.

    Perhaps a UAV autogyro powered by a small jet with some of the jet high pressure gas tapped off and piped into the rotor system to create a rotor tip jet propulsion to spin up the blades for a shorter takeoff run, or perhaps gearing from the engine to do the same would allow short takeoffs and the potential for low power cruising and low noise for observation flights.

    Potential also for UAV use too as it wouldn't need a long runway, esp with a partially powered rotor.

    http://www.pwgs.org/index1e.htm

    and scroll down to the IRKUT Corporations A-0002 lightweight Gyroplane video.

    Should add that one of the extra costs for UAVs is their limited lifespans, or takeoff and landing cycles compared with conventional aircraft that use runways. It might be more conventient to recover a UAV in a net or by parachute but it involves putting stresses on the UAV that normal aircraft don't endure meaning a UAV might only be good for 500 or 1,000 landings compared to 10,000 landings for a conventional landing UAV. Of course a conventional landing UAV takes up runway space and time and cannot be deployed to some areas leading to super large and super expensive extra long range UAVs that takeoff and land from normal runways but can loiter over the target area for long periods... but because they are based a long way from the target area they can take a while to get into position.

    Using an Autogyro for a UAV means that no parachute system is needed, nor is a significant runway as a short stretch of road or flat land free of rocks would suffice for takeoffs and landings.
    Last edited by GarryB; 9th December 2007 at 02:55.

  3. #3
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    Auotgyros, with their performance and versatility, 'ought' to be bigger fish in the GA pond, but it is probable that their alarming accident rate ( per hours flown) puts off many potential autogyrators.

    Historically they have been mainly kit-built, and somehow rotor-based DIY aerial vehicles seem to have generated rather negative press, perhaps due to all the plummetting that has gone on. Even their best friends would have to concede that they are not particularly quiet ( noisy actually) and make leisurely progress (slow).

    They have had 40 years to catch on, but the whole scene remains something of an esoteric cult.

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    I have (fortunately) only ever seen one aircraft crash in thirty-plus years of hanging around airfields and attending airshows.

    It was an autogyro.

    Moggy
    "What you must remember" Flip said "is that nine-tenths of Cattermole's charm lies beneath the surface." Many agreed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Moggy C View Post
    I have (fortunately) only ever seen one aircraft crash in thirty-plus years of hanging around airfields and attending airshows.

    It was an autogyro.

    Moggy

    Moggy, would that be the 'Pee-Wee' Judge incident at Farnborough in 1970. That was the first airshow I attended - not a good introduction. Hated the pesky machines ever since, not surprised they haven't caught on.
    In the end, we're all stardust.

  6. #6
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    This could be a case of giving a dog a bad name.

    I've always thought that the type has punched well below its weight and really 'could do better' - but for the inconvenient fact that people tend to see them as a 'second rate helicopter'.

    As long as this perception lasts, autogyros will continue to be a case of potential unfulfilled.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 91Regal View Post
    Moggy, would that be the 'Pee-Wee' Judge incident at Farnborough in 1970.
    No, my airshow career has been unblemished by misfortune. It was a Saturday in 1995 at Enstone in Oxfordshire.

    Moggy
    "What you must remember" Flip said "is that nine-tenths of Cattermole's charm lies beneath the surface." Many agreed.

  8. #8
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    Even their best friends would have to concede that they are not particularly quiet ( noisy actually) and make leisurely progress (slow).
    The autogyros that operate around here are very quiet... they use large low rev pusher propellers and normal aircraft type engines and are no more noisy on takeoff than the cessnas. Of course in flight they rely on their free spinning main rotors to remain airborne and can throttle their engines right back and make very little noise in normal level flight.
    If you get into trouble you can autorotate as with any helo...

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    Quote Originally Posted by GarryB View Post
    If you get into trouble you can autorotate as with any helo...
    The one I saw autorotated like a brick.

    Moggy
    "What you must remember" Flip said "is that nine-tenths of Cattermole's charm lies beneath the surface." Many agreed.

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    A friend was killed in his Benson-type in a classic PIO-chop off the tail mishap.
    It reminded me of all the horror stories I've read and they turned out too be true. Because eof my familiarity with rotors & such, I was asked to help the unit safety officer with his report. It was such a classic example of that type of mishap that the FAA asked for the wreckage to use at their crash-investagator school.

    On a happier note, there is a firm in the U.S. trying to reintroduce autogyros...the make nice turbine powered ships. But at $500,000 +, a bit too expensive for private use.
    There are two sides to every story. The truth is usually somewhere between the two.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by J Boyle View Post
    A friend was killed in his Benson-type in a classic PIO-chop off the tail mishap.
    It reminded me of all the horror stories I've read and they turned out too be true. Because eof my familiarity with rotors & such, I was asked to help the unit safety officer with his report. It was such a classic example of that type of mishap that the FAA asked for the wreckage to use at their crash-investagator school.

    On a happier note, there is a firm in the U.S. trying to reintroduce autogyros...the make nice turbine powered ships. But at $500,000 +, a bit too expensive for private use.
    Which firm is that? For sure, it sounds too steep to be for the private market... in which case it appears that someone does think there's a 'commercial' future for them...

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jolanta Nowak View Post
    Which firm is that? For sure, it sounds too steep to be for the private market.
    It's the Groen Brothers out of Salt Lake City.
    In addition to their high tech models, they do make small piston powered sport models which are affordable.

    Take a look at some of their proposals...they include bizjets and a firefighter with what looks like a Hercules fuselage.
    One of their turbine ships was used for security during the SLC Olympics...
    They seem to think there is a future in the type.


    http://www.groenbros.com/index.php
    There are two sides to every story. The truth is usually somewhere between the two.

  13. #13
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    Unhappy

    If the Groen Brothers succeed, they'll break a losing streak.

    Since WW2, the FAA has certified only three gyroplanes: Umbaugh U-18/Air & Space 18A FlyMobil (USA) in 1961, Avian 2/180 (Canada) in 1967, and McCulloch J-2 (USA) around 1969. Now consider the output of these designs:

    FlyMobil: 1 U-17 prototype, 2 U-18 prototypes, 5 U-18 pre-production, and 68 18A production (some sources say 110), all by 1966.

    2/180: 6, all prototypes or pre-production, last c. 1967.

    J-2: 83 production in 1969-1972 and at least 1 earlier prototype.

    That amounts to a grand total of 166 or 208; there are unconfirmed accounts of later FlyMobil production on a small scale, but that wouldn't alter the numbers very much.

    Granted, there were some mitigating factors. The FlyMobil was hobbled by a falling out between Umbaugh and Fairchild (who built the prototypes and preproduction machines) and Air & Space's financial problems. That story might have spooked potential investors in Avian.

    But the J-2 is a different story. It was a venture by the McCulloch who made chain saws and moved London Bridge to Arizona. It was marketed at a time when general aviation sales were booming, yet only 83 were built and sold.

    The best of luck to the Groens -- they'll need it.

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    'D'ya wanna be in my gang? '
    Last edited by Propstrike; 1st November 2012 at 09:47.

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    One of the problem factors I have heard discussed in operating light gyroplanes is that of them generating pilot over-confidence.
    Like any aircraft they will bite if inadverently flown outside of their limits.

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    There are one or two modern manufacturers of autogyros whose names escape me at the moment but they seem to be doing OK-ish. Can't vouch for the accuracy of that remark though as I don't have any details on sales figures.
    The mind once expanded by a new idea never returns to its original size.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flying-A View Post
    But the J-2 is a different story. It was a venture by the McCulloch who made chain saws and moved London Bridge to Arizona. It was marketed at a time when general aviation sales were booming, yet only 83 were built and sold.

    The best of luck to the Groens -- they'll need it.
    There was a period (circa 1970) report in Flying magazine about the J-2.
    It cost about $30,000. At that time about the same as a nice new Cessna 172 and considerably more than a Cub.

    The author recognized the STOL attributes of the J-2 but found it compromised in terms of speed and payload compared to a fixed wing aircraft, and with a helicopter for its lack of VTOL capabilities.
    The article ended in with this statement. "For that money, I'd buy a Super Cub and take my change in Bensons".

    Nice ship though. There's one on display at the Pima Museum and I used to drive past a farm that had (parts of) two in a shed.
    If I could buy one today for $30,000 I'd consider it (providing spares are still available).
    Last edited by J Boyle; 13th December 2007 at 15:23.
    There are two sides to every story. The truth is usually somewhere between the two.

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    Quote Originally Posted by J Boyle View Post
    It's the Groen Brothers out of Salt Lake City.
    In addition to their high tech models, they do make small piston powered sport models which are affordable.

    Take a look at some of their proposals...they include bizjets and a firefighter with what looks like a Hercules fuselage.
    One of their turbine ships was used for security during the SLC Olympics...
    They seem to think there is a future in the type.


    http://www.groenbros.com/index.php

    If the CSAR program with DARPA succeeds it could have some potential. Too bad on the timing as the rotor concept they're working with would be a good fit for the US Army Joint Heavy Lift.
    Last edited by sferrin; 17th January 2009 at 19:29.

  19. #19
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    Cartercopters is another American company developing the autogyro. They have done research into high speed gyros.Quite a sleek design by all accounts.

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    Another bit of (fairly) useless information!

    (From Wikipedia)

    Autogyros are also known as gyroplanes, gyrocopters, or rotaplanes. When the term is spelled autogiro it is a trademark that can only be applied to products of the Cierva Autogiro Company or its licensees, and the name Gyrocopter was a trademark of the Bensen Company.
    "Aviation is a useless and expensive fad advocated by a few individuals whose ideas are unworthy of attention."
    Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Sir W. G. Nicholson

  21. #21
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    It might be useless information PL but at least it is still on topic which is more than can be said for some of us
    The mind once expanded by a new idea never returns to its original size.

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    The FAA defines a gyrodyne as an aircraft that powers its rotor for landings, take-offs, and low speed flight, but otherwise flies as an autogyro. The first gyrodynes were apparently the Doblhoff WNF342V3 and WNF342V4 prototypes during the WWII; the former was destroyed in a crash, but latter is reportedly in the NASM collection. Later notables include the McDonnell XV-1 (reportedly the first rotorcraft to exceed 200 mph) and the Fairey Rotodyne. Most gyrodynes have resulted from attempts to extent the range of tip-drive helicopters, which tend to be fuel hogs. An notable exception was the Lockheed AH-56 Cheyenne, which had a turboshaft-powered main rotor, but diverted something like 90% of its power to a pusher tail rotor while in forward flight.

    To date, no gyrodyne has entered quantity production, but hope springs eternal, e.g. the Carter Copter.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by 25deg south View Post
    One of the problem factors I have heard discussed in operating light gyroplanes is that of them generating pilot over-confidence.
    Like any aircraft they will bite if inadverently flown outside of their limits.
    As we discussed a couple of years ago autogyros have to be operated strictly within their flight envelope,ie they are not as forgiving as most light aircraft.
    Also they have more safety critical small components than a light aircraft has.

    Cheers baz

  24. #24
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    I have studied the history and development of gyroplanes quite extensively, own and operate two Air & Space 18A gyroplanes, and hold CPL/CFI in gyroplanes (among other qualifications) and offer the following observations for your considered opinions.

    1. A gyroplane must be designed, constructed, and maintained to accepted aeronautical standards to be considered safe and reliable for everyday use. The Autogiros of the Cierva company (and its licensees), though each successive model incorporated sometimes significant improvements or differences from those preceding, were produced and operated by aviation professionals. This resulted in the outstanding safety record for this type of aircraft in terms of fatalities and injuries, even though accidents occurred with some regularity. Experimental gyroplanes, with very few exceptions, are designed, built, and operated by amateurs which has resulted in the very bad reputation now attached to this type of aircraft.

    2. When the gyroplane was superceded by the helicopter, development of the former ceased and further rotorcraft advances passed it by. The helicopter has benefited enormously from concentrated development over the past 65 years; conversely, the gyroplane was developed during the period of 1920 - 1940 (or so) by probably less than 50 qualified engineers worldwide.

    3. The gyroplane can easily land in an area from which it cannot take off, unless substantial jump-takeoff performance is available. A jump-takeoff is a low performance maneuver since most the energy is expended is the first five seconds and used to sustain the aircraft in the air while it is accelerated to a climb airspeed which may or may not provide adequate performance to clear obstacles. The minimum permissible gyroplane rotor r.p.m. for takeoff should provide jump takeoff capability.

    4. Gyroplanes need a tail rotor. Any aircraft that can routinely operate at airspeeds where control about one or more of its axes is degraded must be fitted with a control system to eliminate that deficiency.

    5. Gyroplanes should avoid operating from runways, particularly at busy airports, when possible, to avoid traffic conflicts due to the time required for takeoff, and the airspeed differential between it and faster airplanes during climb.

    6. Gyroplanes can easily operate from a non-runway area on an airport when such operations can be conducted without hazard.

    7. Gyroplanes should not takeoff when insufficient clear area is available under the flight path in the event of emergency.

    8. The maximum climb angle attainable by a gyroplane after liftoff is at best equivalent to that of STOL airplanes.

    9. Gyroplanes can maneuver as necessary after takeoff to avoid obstructions, depending on performance available.

    10. Gyroplanes should not execute a landing approach to an area where conflicting traffic can appear at the last moment since go-around performance in the landing flare is at best marginal.

    11. Gyroplanes can especially benefit from a combination of a modern hingeless rotor and vibration control technology.

    12. Gyroplanes can be safely maneuvered without regard to minimum airspeed or rotor r.p.m. as necessary to meet a potentially hazardous situation.

    13. Gyroplanes can fly safely at altitudes and airspeeds which are unsafe in other types of aircraft, particularly at low altitude.

    14. The inherent safety of the autorotating rotor significantly reduces pilot stress and workload in both normal and emergency operations.

    15. Irreversible controls, three axis trim and a rotor stability augmentation system significantly reduce pilot fatigue on a long flight in a gyroplane.

    16. Gyroplanes can easily execute a precautionary landing, off-airport if necessary, without hazard to persons or property.

    17. Gyroplanes must have provide payloads comparable to airplanes of similar size to be useful.

    18. Gyroplane performance must enable the completion of flights of reasonable range within periods comparable to those commonly undertaken with comparable aircraft, e.g. two to three hours or so.

    19. Controllability and performance necessary to successfully and reliably execute landings in crosswinds up to at least 10 knots must be provided. Crosswind landings in an Air & Space 18A, for example, are not recommended, even though approved in the flight manual, due to the ease with which loss of control can occur at the very last stages of the maneuver.

    20. Pilot training for gyroplanes is available but sometimes hard to find.


    Included herein are observations published in my article available at www.gyroplane.aero/gyroplane_xc_article.html
    Last edited by jpphoopha; 31st December 2007 at 00:12.

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    4. Gyroplanes need a tail rotor. Any aircraft that can routinely operate at airspeeds where control about one or more of its axes is degraded must be fitted with a control system to eliminate that deficiency.

    That's an interesting point.
    I gained a gyroplane PPL some years ago as part of an industry project .
    Certainly the idea of being dependent on an aerodynamic rudder post engine failure ( and immediate loss of slipstream over the fin ) felt a little disconcerting , particularly when you look at the keel area forward of the rotor mast. The final IAS of about 45 kt left reasonable rudder feel eventually, but events in between tended to keep you on your toes for a few seconds.
    I do wonder if the initial Cierva tractor type of configuration with the consequently longer tail surface moment arm would be inherently a bit less touchy in this aspect.

  26. #26
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    I don't think that the tail moment arm is going to make much difference when there is very little to no controllable yaw moment available at low airspeeds, particularly during the landing flare.

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    Gyrocopter safety

    I had a flight in a gyrocopter with Phil Harwood up at Rufforth a few weeks ago.
    http://gyrocopterexperience.com/
    I've flown in lots of aircraft but the gyrocopter was by far the most exciting. In the interview I did with him for my podcast he said that the new breed of gyrocopter that have been certified by the CAA are much safer. The bad safety record was due to lack of training and the fact that many, if not all, were home built. The latest model of Calidus from Autogyro looks really cool.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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    Accident statistics

    How do you find out what the actual accident statistics for autogyros are by the way?
    Are they listed anywhere?

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by 25deg south View Post
    One of the problem factors I have heard discussed in operating light gyroplanes is that of them generating pilot over-confidence.
    Like any aircraft they will bite if inadverently flown outside of their limits.
    A few months back I was chatting with some fellow workers, including one who is a Rock Ape about unusual things we had seen during deployment's from our unit. The Rock ( RAF Regiment, for those who don't know RAF Speak) told us of how he was on detachment to an Army Camp, located on an ex RAF Station a few years back, when he was volunteered, to support an old boy's reunion on the camp, by the fact that he was the only serving RAF Serviceman there at the time. Now this guy's only real interest in aircraft has been in shooting them down (as a Rapier SAM operator), and the one which is bringing him back from hot and dusty places. So except for the prospect of some free beer, he was not looking forward to it. Anyhow, he gets chatting to the old boy's and finds out one of them is a quite famous pilot, who is still flying on a US pilots Licence, due to his UK one getting revoked and the guy is going to give the old boy's a bit of a display, before he flys home in his autogyro (at this point, I told the rest who the old boy was, seeing that I've met him once as well). Anyhow, the rock them goes on to tell us how he then saw Wg Cdr Ken Wallis embed his autogyro into some goal posts on the football field (found a report about it here).

    Seem's they can catch out even the most experienced pilot.
    TWIN RAMJET POWERED MONOPLANE FIXER 1985 - 1989

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