Gyroplanes

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philbennett
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Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2014 8:56 pm

Gyroplanes

Post by philbennett » Thu Aug 14, 2014 9:40 am

Hi.

I'm not sure if there are any members with knowledge or interest in gyroplanes, perhaps that will grow with the new arrangements for continuing airworthiness for "factory built" machines approved under BCAR section T.

My question however is this:- Does anyone knows the barriers to entry for this market?

I understand that it is unlikely that any new "kit" designs are ever likely to gain approval simply because of the reality/perception of the safety around this type of machine. However the "factory built" machines are designed and built to BCAR section T which is a (seemingly) well defined document, similar to BCAR section S for light fixed wing designs. Yet so far there are only 2 entities involved in manufacturing machines to this standard, Magni from Italy and Auto-Gyro from Germany, with UK specifics handled by the local agents. I know that the Spanish manufacturer ELA tried to gain approval for one of its machines a few years ago but failed and there has been a machine by Arrowcopter which also seems to have struggled for traction. However nothing (as I know) from the UK, which seems odd because all these machines use off the shelf components for motor, fuel, induction, ignition, switch gear, instruments and any avionics, so I wonder what I'm overlooking or is it simply a lack of interest?

I know the LAA produced a test pilot course over recent years for the flight testing of this type of machine but does anyone know if there is any manufacturer or designer in the UK with plans to produce a UK machine as commercially it does seem to be a growing area of GA.
Phil Bennett
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Brian Hope
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Re: Gyroplanes

Post by Brian Hope » Thu Sep 04, 2014 1:18 pm

Hi Phil, I'm surprised nobody has come back to you on this. I think the real issue here is the size of the UK market. I don't actually believe it is a growing market any more. Rotorsport has done very well with its recreational machines, they have sold around 140 whilst Magni has a very much smaller share of the market. With the gyro scene almost dead in the water before the factory built machines entered the market, it is possible that the boom in the UK has now happened for recreational gyros - the itch has been scratched and future growth will be much slower.
That is almost certainly why Rotorsport is moving into the certified world with the Cavalon Pro, which will make it a £100k aircraft. As a certified aircraft it will be able to compete for some of the commercial activities currently undertaken by considerably more expensive small helicopters, thus opening up a new market.
The cost of putting a machine through Section T – which is done via the CAA, not the LAA – is quite high, which is why, as things currently stand, we are unlikely to see many, if any, new companies entering the UK market. A couple of years ago I did hear that somebody was exploring the possibility of importing a single seater, but that seems to have gone very quiet.
LAA is supporting a Royal Aeronautical Society proposal to get an Experimental regime going which will enable manufacturers to fly and develop potential marketable machines without having to overcome the many obstacles currently in place that make developing a new aircraft a major headache. CAA is receptive so let’s hope that comes to fruition and encourages the undoubted talent within the UK to move ahead with new ideas. We may then be in a better position to develop new aircraft of all categories for both the home and export markets.
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philbennett
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Re: Gyroplanes

Post by philbennett » Wed Sep 10, 2014 6:18 pm

Hello Brian, Thanks very much for the reply.

Do you know the detail behind the RAeS experimental proposals?

Speaking personally I think that gyroplanes are wonderfully suited to the needs of most engaged in GA, with machines being fast enough for leisure flying and as reliable and economical to comparable Rotax powered aeroplanes but all gyroplanes offer good short field performance and are much less affected by both cross winds and thermic conditions - which is possibly the most relevant point.

The Cavalon Pro is interesting but given that any commercial work would also need to come with a completely new licence (as a CPL (G) doesn't exist - in fact currently you can't even fly a gyro at night on a PPL) and where is this demand for using gyros commercially? Yes I can see that pipeline, power line and other inspection work could fit but given most of these contracts currently expressly demand the use of a turbine helicopter do we really think that the use of gyroplanes would be accepted?? I don't. Not that I think they couldn't be used but the political contractual nature of these things I suspect will be a harder nut to crack.

They could be used for observation purposes but again it seems another pipe dream, anyone remember the Edgley Optica? An EC135 seems an awful long way from that....

Actually about the biggest positive for the Cavalon Pro is that any customers will find it aviation finance doors open that would otherwise be locked to permit to fly aircraft.

I digress, my point being that a more productive way to progress the market would be to seek to grow the overall base of people flying gyroplanes and that requires a more affordable entry into the type.

Currently the cheapest commercially readily available gyroplane is arguably the MTO-Sport which depends on GBPEUR is around £50k new and maybe £40k used if you can find one. The instructor base is pushed out to the extremities of the UK, hull insurance is very expensive and arguably the biggest effect is whilst you can self fly hire a gyroplane, you actually can't because nobody offers it!

All of which means practically that in order to win the benefits of a gyroplane means that you have to be very motivated and committed in order to learn to fly one - by virtue of geographic location of instructors - then to fly one once you have your licence practically you then have to spend at least £40k on your own machine. Of course if you live in York or Carlisle then you have it made but then most of the UK don't!

I think the nut to crack is the formulation of an SSDR or even single seat permit types (that do not require huge capital investment in approved facilities) for gyroplanes. That way the customer demand will grow simply because they can see a route to actually going flying beyond the training phase, plus somebody might be prepared to invest in machines that could be self fly hired in a club environment.

Do you know anyone in the LAA that is interested in gyro's?
Phil Bennett
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Brian Hope
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Re: Gyroplanes

Post by Brian Hope » Wed Sep 10, 2014 11:19 pm

Hi Phil. The RAeS Experimental Category paper was in fact instigated by John Edgley, designer of the Optica you mention in your post. It has been around for several years but is at last getting some consideration due to the changing face of the CAA. The paper can be found here: http://aerosociety.com/Assets/Docs/Publ ... _Paper.pdf but how or if it differs from the current discussions I do not know.
I think you are being somewhat negative about the future for gyros. Let's face it, ten years ago if somebody told you there would be around 150 two seat gyros flying in the UK you would have laughed at them. There are also now a reasonable number of training establishments sited up and down the country so it isn't necessary for most people to travel too far for tuition. For that to have happened in a tightly regulated sector in such a short time is an achievement that should be recognised and applauded, and I think it shows that the people driving industry in the UK know what they are doing and have the ability to continue to sort out the obstacles that lie ahead, both in recreational and commercial operation. The availability of a more affordable single seat kit built may or may not be financially viable, only time will tell if any of the major players in the industry decide it is and move that particular goal forward.
There is certainly interest in gyros in the LAA; there is a small number of homebuilt single seaters and very recently the Association has started to offer inspection services for permit renewal of the two-seat factory-builts. Hopefully a growing number will join the LAA fleet.
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philbennett
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Re: Gyroplanes

Post by philbennett » Thu Sep 11, 2014 9:16 am

Hi Brian, Thanks for the link although 2006!! Wow.

I agree I think gyroplanes have an excellent future, I'm just not sure about that future being driven by demand in any commercial application (outside pilot training).

Travel for training is an issue. Where for example is your nearest gyro training school if you live in Norfolk or Gloucester or the West Midlands! Then because the instructors that do exist are effectively one man and his gyro availability is the next barrier. Try booking some lessons for several weekends and see how you get on. Seriously try it.

The point is its harder than it needs to be and certainly if you transition across from aeroplanes or helicopters you are in a different world. For instance lets take the first solo. That's a big deal in any pilots life. In a gyro you'll also remember it typically for not only the flying experience but the fact that you'll need to deposit between circa £2500 and £5000 in case it goes wrong. That's a lot of money. Its absolutely a great thing that 150 two seaters are now flying in the UK but speak to those owners and you'll see the commitment it required. In a world of increasing ease and simplicity that's magnified.

I think it would be very helpful if there was greater effort with the structure and processes that surround the sector and think that the new relationship with the LAA will hopefully be helpful in this regard.

In respect of manufacturers really right now there is effectively only one active constructor, and that's Auto-Gyro via Rotorsport in the UK. Whilst no doubt they have built things having one dominate player in any market isn't healthy. As you say the demands and requirements to obtain full section T approval on any new machine is extremely difficult (just look at the Arrowcopter and then see how long that has been in the pipeline for the UK) so one must conclude that a better more efficient path needs to be created.
Phil Bennett
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uksparky1972
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Re: Gyroplanes

Post by uksparky1972 » Thu Feb 04, 2016 12:40 am

Hi Phil,

I used to fly Heli's and moved across to gyro's. I have my own Rotorsport MTO Sport machine based at Carlisle now. There awesome fun machines and very agile. Brian has given you accurate information regarding your questions. There are a lot of new developments going on in the gyro market and owners and enthusiasts would love to see new machines approved (especially the arrowcopter) but they do have to go through the CAA. As you know the CAA cogs can turn very slowly and its not cheap!.

Rotorsport are planning to sell 51% built kits in the UK (see there newsletter) and Autogyro are working on a 4 seater gyro. Hopefully Rotax 915 engines will be standard in gyro's in the next few years.

All owners at our school were actively encouraged to join the LAA and I was under the impression most of the fleet had now joined.

Regarding training, it costs about £6K to get your license if you start from scratch. The £5K deposit to go solo is unfortunate but thats just how it is at the moment. It did bother me handing over that money initially but once I had completed my solo's it was back in my acccount the next day. Insurance costs are falling now, which is great as insureres now realise the BCAR Section T machines have a good safety record and there is now more competition between insureres.

You can get a share in a gyro at many locations in the UK from as little as £9K for a 1/5th share. Just depends what you want and your financial situation. Used prices used to be quite high but I know of 4 MTO sports that have went for £38K - £42K in the last year or so. At that entry point depreciation is low.
Rotors are lifed for 2000hours and the airframe is not lifed. They use approx 12ltrs per hour of MOGAS.

Get youself a couple of lessons and you'll soon be hooked! Cumbria is a great place to have a go as your first lessons can be in the stunning lake district!

Regards,

Mark

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