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From my understanding, a gyroplane (autogyro):

  • Is a rotocraft.
  • Uses an unpowered rotor for lift generation, instead of wings.
  • Uses a propeller for horizontal translation like an airplane.
  • Cannot take off vertically or hover contrary to an helicopter.
  • Can land vertically like an helicopter using rotor inertia.
  • Maybe simpler to build and maintain than an helicopter or an airplane.

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Are gyroplanes a technology that works but without particular application? Or do gyroplanes have well known uses for which they have significant advantages over airplanes and helicopters?

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    $\begingroup$ The POLICE marking on the side of the gyrocopter in the photo would suggest one accepted use, however limited. I think that apart from costs gyrocopters would probably have lots of good applications. A light fixed wing will often be cheaper with similar utility. $\endgroup$ – J Walters Feb 28 '16 at 23:22
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    $\begingroup$ @JonathanWalters not if you want vtol capability. $\endgroup$ – ratchet freak Feb 28 '16 at 23:27
  • $\begingroup$ @ratchetfreak Very true, and part of why I said similar. $\endgroup$ – J Walters Feb 28 '16 at 23:30
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe good for low speed flight but lower cost than a helicopter? Don't they provide more lift at lower speed than a fixed wing? Just a guess. That would make sense why police might use them. Easier to patrol a small area than a fixed wing. I always thought they were kind of a hobbyist thing. $\endgroup$ – TomMcW Feb 28 '16 at 23:37
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    $\begingroup$ They make great props in James Bond movies $\endgroup$ – Dave Feb 29 '16 at 6:42
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Gyroplanes have quite a few applications, but the problem is that anything they can do, others (helicopters/fixed wing aircraft) can do better.

  • The main advantage of a rotorcraft is that they can hover at a location; the gyroplanes are unable to do this, which is kind of a deal breaker.

  • The main advantage of the gyroplane is that they cost less and are easier to maintain, compared to other type of aircraft. However, most of the autogyros available in market are small ones and as the size scales up, this may vanish.

  • The gyroplanes are used mainly for low speed surveillance operations due to their low stall speed. Of course, helicopters can be used to do this, albeit at a higher cost

  • So basically, the autogyro can do most of the things the helicopters/small GA aircraft can do at a lower cost. This low operational cost may be its main advantage.

I'm not aware of anything the autogyro can do which the others cannot do though.

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  • $\begingroup$ The only thing I can think of that might be better about a gyrocopter is improved trailer-ability. Even that one is arguable though. $\endgroup$ – Greg Taylor Mar 1 '16 at 11:43
  • $\begingroup$ The ability to make landing with no ground roll is also a useful safety feature, especially useful for the low altitude operations where you have limited choice of landing spots if the engine quits. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec May 29 '17 at 17:02
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I also want to mention these advantages (in addition to the lower operational cost):

  • Easy to fly and enjoy the flying experience.
  • Because it is in constant autorotation it can't stall.
  • It's simpler than a helicopter or plane
  • Because it's simpler and can't stall: With a proper design It can be safer than a helicopter or plane.

Mix that and you find the perfect recipe for sport/pleasure flying for people that have been dreaming of flying. Also this is the foundation of the bad safety reputation (with is not the fault of autogyros) as amateurs are building and flying this aircraft without the proper preparation.

Also:

  • With a prerotator and rotor pitch control it can do jump takeoffs, taking off vertically.
  • It can not hover but it can land within a very short distance (practically none)

In conclusion, private usage is the perfect application for Autogyros.

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  • $\begingroup$ @Jan Hudec Rotor RPM will not suddenly drop, RPM will decay in a controllable maner so you can safely land. $\endgroup$ – Jesús Martín Berlanga Apr 30 '16 at 21:03
  • $\begingroup$ Also, how is it simpler than fixed wing aircraft? It has engine similar to fixed wing aircraft, but instead of fixed wings and fixed stabilizers with rather simple control surfaces on them it has another rotating part controlled via rather complicated swashplate. And one additional control axis, the collective. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Apr 30 '16 at 21:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Jan Huden You don't have Aileron, Flaps and Trim controllers. You only need a ruder and a teeter-head system wich is not that complicated. Collective pitch controls are not usually fitted to autogyros, they don't need it to fly. $\endgroup$ – Jesús Martín Berlanga Apr 30 '16 at 21:10
  • $\begingroup$ I am not sure I would call any rotating component simpler than ailerons and elevators that are controlled by simple pulley. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Apr 30 '16 at 21:16
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, without a collective it probably really can't stall. Doesn't the lack of it complicate the landing somewhat though? $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Apr 30 '16 at 21:17
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The gyrocopter is cheap, versatile, and as easy to operate as an off-road motorcycle. What can it be used for? For everyone's daily ride to work.

The owner of Quobba Station in Western Australia owns a gyrocopter and uses it to patrol his land, and to muster the sheep and goats when time comes to sell them. He operates a barren "sheep station" the size of a small country, and has built the gyro himself.

A Robinson R22 would be prohibitively expensive. A small plane would not be able to land anywhere on his property. The off-road motorcycle ride is slower and less comfortable.

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