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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON AUTOGYRO / GYROCOPTER / GYROPLANE / AUTOGIRO

Xenon
WHAT IS A GYROPLANE / AUTOGIRO / AUTOGYRO / GYROCOPTER?

"GYROPLANE" is an official term designated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) describing an aircraft that gets lift from a freely turning rotary wing or rotor blades, and which derives its thrust from an engine-driven propeller. Historically, this type of aircraft has been known as autogiro and gyrocopter. These early names and their variants were filed as trademarks.

Gyroplanes derive lift from freely turning rotor blades tilted back to catch the air. The rushing air spins the rotor as the aircraft is thrust forward by an engine driven propeller. Early gyroplanes were powered by engines in a tractor (puller) configuration and were relatively heavy. Modern gyroplanes use pusher propeller and are light and maneuverable. With engine in the rear, the gyroplane has unobstructed visibility.

 
WHAT IS AUTOROTATION?

Oncoming airflow through the rotor causes it to spin, producing lift, this is called "AUTOROTATION".

 
HOW IS THE GROCOPTER DIFFERENT FROM A HELICOPTER?

A Gyrocopter can fly more slowly than airplanes and will not stall, they can fly faster than helicopters but cannot hover. Since rotorblades on a gyrocopter are powered only by the air (autorotation), much like a windmill, there is no need for a tail rotor for anti-torque. The gyrocopter is a stable flying platform unlike a helicopter which pulls the air down through engine powered rotor blades making it possible to hover, but also making the aircraft very complicated and expensive to fly. Due to the autogyro's inherent simplicity, it is easier to operate and less expensive to maintain than helicopters. Helicopters at low altitude and out of ground effect, avoid hovering whenever possible, to fix surveillance on one spot, proper procedure for all helicopters is to circle in a slow orbit and the same can be achieved by the Gyrocopter also, like the helicopter it can circle in slow orbit making it the best platform for surveillance and monitoring.

 
HOW SAFE IS THE GYROCOPTER? WHAT HAPPENS IN CASE THE ENGINE FAILS DURING FLIGHT?

The first major safety feature is that a GYROCOPTER DOES NOT STALL. If the engine quits entirely, the free rotating rotor acts like a parachute, in fact, it is better than a parachute. Since the rotor is not powered anyway, the Gyrocopter can land under full control, just like normal landing. Descending keeps the rotor turning and you can get about 3000 feet of horizontal distance for the loss of every 1000 feet of elevation. The second major safety feature of the Gyrocopter is that it can land like a helicopter, in a very short distance, you just don't need to find a runway - just enough space to accommodate your rotor span, you won't go taxiing into something on landing.

 
ARE GYROCOPTERS EXPENSIVE TO OPERATE?

The simplicity of Gyrocopter design translatses directly into safety, higher performance, higher mission readiness, lower maintenance and more economical operation, for its operator. In fact the cost of the cheapest helicopter available in the market is at least 5 times more than that of the Gyrocopter. Even the operating cost is roughly Rs. 2000.00 per hour, which is absolutely nothing in comparison to the smallest and cheapest helicopter available in the market.

 
WHAT FUEL DOES A GYROCOPTER USE?

Gyrocopters having 80 to 100 hp engines use 92 Octane petrol (premium uleaded like "Speed", etc.), nowadays available at almost all petrol filling stations throughout India, but for those having more than 100 hp engines the recommended fuel is either 97 Octane Petrol (available in big cities only) or 100LL Avgas (not easily available even on airports).

 
DOES A GYROCOPTER NEED AIRSTRIP OR RUNWAY FOR OPERATING?

Gyrocopters are perfect GO-ANYWHERE aircraft with STOL (Short Take Off & Landing) characteristics, they need approximately 50 metres to take-off and less than 5 metres to land.

 
HOW HIGH AND FAST CAN A GYROCOPTER FLY?

Normally Gyrocopters fly at an altitudes less than 2,000 feet ASL but they are capable of flying as high as 15,000 feet ASL. Though the VNE of an Autogyro may be higher, they economically cruise at speeds ranging between 100 to 160 kmph (depending upon the wind and weather conditions).

 
WHERE DO I PARK MY GYROCOPTER?

A Gyrocopter does not have wings, only a twin blade rotor, which makes it quite comfortable to park in small spaces. Moreover you can always tether its rotor blades in line with the main body, put it on a trailer, bring it home and park it in your garage, like a car.

 
DO I NEED A LICENCE TO FLY THE GYROCOPTER?

Yes, the minimum eligibility is 17 years of age and 10th standard certificate, but otherwise in case you already have a valid Private Pilot Licence (PPL) (fixed or rotary wing) or higher, you are qualified to fly the Gyrocopter after certain minor formalities and 5 to 25 hours of hands-on experience.

 
WHERE CAN I LEARN TO FLY THE GYROCOPTER, IN INDIA?

Until now, there are no schools teaching gyroplane flying in India, but very soon, Microlight Aviation shall be starting its own 'Go Fly' School, near Jaipur, where you could learn to fly the Gyrocopters.

 
CAN GYROCOPTERS BE UTILISED FOR TRAVELLING? ARE THERE ANY RESTRICTIONS?

Autogyros / Gyrocopters like Microlights fly under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) and are used the world over for personal transportation, specialized jobs, sports and recreation. As to restrictions. under Indian rules, except for a few notified area, microlights are allowed to fly just about anywhere. Otherwise microlights can fly anywhere outside uncontrolled airspace subject to "Rules of Air". If you do want permission to fly in the controlled airspace, you must be in radio contact with the nearest ATC. You will be able to see from the map, where you can fly and where you can't. But nearly all microlights do actually fly in controlled airspace, all you do is file a flight plan with the nearest ATC and get the required permission to enter and fly. Basically with the right qualifications and equipment, you can just hop into your gyrocopter and fly as and when you please.

 
CAN GYROCOPTERS REPLACE HELICOPTER? HOW ELSE CAN THEY BE USED, EXCEPT TRANSPORTATION, SPORTS AND RECREATION?

Due to inherent ability of the Autogyro / Gyrocopter to fly slow & low with very less noise, consume much less fuel and have economical maintenance, they are now proving to be an effective replacement for helicopters in the following fields -

  • Military and Para-military Operations
  • Intelligence Gathering
  • Border Surveillance and Patrolling
  • Airfield Bird Control
  • Aerial Video Surveillance
  • Crowd Control & Policing
  • Oil and Gas Pipeline Inspection
  • High Voltage Powerline Inspection
  • Aerial Survey
  • Highway & Forest Patrolling
  • Agriculture Crop Spraying & Dusting
  • Locust Control
 
ARE GYROCOPTERS AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN INDIA?

Microlight Aviation (P) Limited is the only company which sells Gyrocopters in the Asian market.

 
HOW CAN GYROCOPTERS BE IMPORTED INTO INDIA?

Gyrocopters can be imported, but as an individual or a company you shall have to pay a Customs Duty as applicable on the cost of the gyrocopter to import it into India.

Of course a complete exemption on Customs Duty can be availed, but only if the aircraft is imported by a flying school for instructional purposes. But in case the flying school opts to sell such imported aircraft (within whatever period), no Customs Duty is charged only to the extent that it is sold to another flying school for instructional purposes, but if it is sold to any individual or company for non-instructional purposes, such sale would essentially attract the same Customs Duty as is applicable on any aircraft imported for private purpose, which the purchaser of the aircraft is bound to pay to the Government of India.

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