While the structure looks like a tiny helicopter, there is virtually nothing to ride here. As a result, perhaps only a better view is from bubble cab helicopters, but the experience here is even more direct.
The machine is powered by a Rotax block. And as the developers said, they tried another engine during the development, but it turned out to be the best for that purpose. As in motorhome manufacturing, weight is very important here, and an engine with a better weight / power ratio than Rotax is not very common in aviation today. Not by the way: it’s an infinitely mature engine.
The main advantage of the autogiro is that it is perhaps the cheapest aircraft to maintain. The purchase price is well below the price of a regular helicopter, between € 69-77,000 net, depending on equipment, in comparison, a 2016 model of the popular and also two-seater Robinson R22 helicopter can be purchased for € 270,000. The storage space requirement is slightly below that of a small aircraft, the engine does not need special fuel, it also tickes with 95 petrol.
It takes 50-150 meters of asphalt strips to take off, depending on the weather and the load, but with the right landing gear, the grassy meadow is not a challenge either. It is no longer a wonder that a man-made object can fly, but even in the world of penny low-cost benches available to the masses, the autogyro seems a bit vicious.
Everyone knows that there is a huge rotor on top of the helicopter that rotates so fast that it lifts the plane. Clean line. In comparison, the working principle of the autogyro in its mysterious way is almost magic. The same way there is the huge rotor, but it is not driven by anything. To take off, the main rotor is spun up for a short time with the power of the engine, the push propeller mounted on the back of the machine starts to push the machine forward, and then when the headwind can keep the rotor rotating, enough buoyancy is produced and the machine takes off.
With the exception of the dashboard in front of us, the seat has a circular panorama, nowhere is a distraction, essentially our feet sticking out into nowhere. The Rotax buzzs and the carbon paddles push out pretty slowly into the runway. Then, with an unexpected sway, the barely 280-pound machine starts up, the rotors spin up and all of a sudden the machine takes off, even though we are barely moving.
It is rising surprisingly fast. No matter how much the wind hisses, somehow these frantic rotors make it from a height, we float so smoothly that one forgets what turbulence is. Then all of a sudden, the engine shuts off and we sit quietly 400 feet high under the softly hissing blades.
The company that manufactures this vehicle in series is a Hungarian company. Surprisingly, it is called Skycruiser Autogyro Kft. A small company founded in 2012 in Inárcs, with many hard-working and apparently very competent employees and a flying pilot, Zoltán Horváth Szabó. Behind it are more than a thousand helicopter flying hours, partly with agricultural machinery. The latter also returned on our flight. He handled the machine with amazing professionalism, which is as manoeuvrable as perhaps nothing else in the category.
They work closely with BME and the University of Debrecen, and several diploma theses have been written from this cooperation. Future developments include a closed cabin version, a three-person model, agricultural and reconnaissance, rescue versions.
It is used by many states for military and law enforcement purposes, so it might not be a worthwhile idea to replace some of the expensive helicopters with lightweight and not incidentally domestically developed and manufactured cars. Incidentally, 80 percent of devices called flying cars are also autogyros (the remaining drone, or collapsible fixed-wing aircraft) whose rotors are easy to fold and somehow make them suitable for round-trip traffic.
This is how the autogyro works, the force of the wind is replaced by a propeller. The rotor is rotated by the air flow during travel, thus generating buoyancy. Essentially, the rigid wing is replaced by a rotor, as can be seen on the first such machines. Before take-off, the rotor is spun up, in the case of the tested type a flexible drive is used, which is simply released by the pilot after reaching the appropriate speed. This can be followed by a run-in like a normal plane. The rotor does not rotate in a horizontal plane, but is tilted slightly tilted, and in flight by tilting the rotor.
Although the helicopter is similar in appearance, it is very different in principle: here the rotation of the rotor moves a huge mass of air downwards, thanks to which it is able to take off, hang and lift loads vertically. But if there is a problem, the helicopter can also autorotate, this is the normal procedure for a forced landing. When the engine / gas turbine stops, the airflow rotates the rotor during descent and sinks more slowly, similar to the fruit of the maple tree. Of course, this requires a trained pilot who, by landing, raising the nose of the helicopter, curbing the descent using the kinetic energy stored in the rotor.
Technical parameters of the vehicle:
Engine: Rotax 912 125HP (Italian turbo kit)
Propeller: Velezprop, E-Prop Excalibur 6 blades (optional)
Rotor blade: Averso 8.4 m aluminum, Gyrotech 8.4 m carbon fiber (optional)
Dimensions: 8.4 x 2 m x 2.75 m
Number of seats: 2 (tandem)
Unladen weight: 290 kg
Max take-off weight: 560 kg
Fuel: 95 petrol
Fuel capacity: 75 liters (3-4 hours / 300-400 km flight)
Take-off run: 50-150 m
Travel speed: 120 km / h
Maximum speed: 165 km / h
Minimum flight speed: 40 km / h
Ascent speed: 3.5-7 m / s