back to article VTOL gyro-copter flying car mates with killer robot

A flying-car company which has struggled for 15 years to win acceptance for its radical gyrocopter/aeroplane technology may have finally broken through into the mainstream. It was announced this week that Carter Aviation technologies - aspiring designer of the CarterCopter Personal Air Vehicle - has partnered with successful …

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and none of this is very new

I have flown a rather ancient autogyro that could do jump takeoffs, that was 20 years ago and it was old and decrepit then. Even Cierva had the capability before WWII. None of them "took off" commercially because they all suffer from the considerable expense of variable pitch blades and control hardware (instead of a simple teetering head as on a Wallis or modern light autogyro).

Not only the extra expense of the hardware, but also the maintenance of having half a helicopter but with about an 1/8th of the capability. Oh and then there is all the potential vortex management (at 50' altitude) and so it goes on.

Ken Wallis has shown that it is perfectly possible to make a small, fast, simple to fly autogyro that takes off in 100' (nil wind) and lands vertically (if you want). Why do the military not talk to him?

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UAV tech

You'd've thought all of this UAV tech would eventually dribble down to bring flying within reach of the masses, by massively simplifying the controls into something a bit more familiar. Even further on, maybe even the qualifications infrastructure for becoming a pilot of such an aircraft would be greatly simplified.

Currently, paying ~ £20K to take enough lessons for a PPL, plus the cost of buying and running an aircraft is way beyond the average citizen. Never mind the fact that in the UK, many people don't even have enough room to put a car in their garage, let alone a flying car...

We're probably still 100 years away from flying cars being viable in the UK.

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Boffin

~ £20K for a PPL ?

In Spain a PPL license costs about € 8K

Including classes, taxes and plane rental.

I know because I asked last month, after having a couple of practical lessons in a cessna 172.

If the cost is ~ £20K in the UK, you will save money coming to Barcelona for 'holidays' , and returning with an european PPL

(The US PPL license isn't fully recognized in Spain by AENA, because in the US is way more cheap )

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Problem is

This version of an autogyro needs the most expensive parts of a helicopter.

The blades themselves

The mixing mechanics (including the washout)

The swashplate.

and it lacks a lot of the capabilities the full-blown heli would have, such as self-balancing rotor (that can be folded over the tailboom), independent tail control, etc..

//Svein

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This would have been called a 'True Autogyro' back then.

Damned, I am old.

Autogyros do have some advantages over helicopters but a lot of the safety issues are inverted.

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Anonymous Coward

noone wants one?

because the firm wants too much for the so-called intellectual property?

nothing new in this mix of technology. its just another form of gyrodynes and they fell out of fashion in the 1970s.

mind you if I had the time and money, I'd build myself one.

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Silver badge

Bah!

It is my understanding that a true autogyro *cannot* land vertically unless specifically modified to do so, since it relies on the forward motion of the vehicle past the fixed angle-of-attack rotor assembly to generate lift. There is (silent) film footage of the first bloke to have cracked how to make an autogyro land vertically, which he did as a stunt at air shows by hingeing the rotor hub and changing its angle of attack at the last moment of landing by pulling on an enormous lever. He got a *very* short vertical landing capability (it looked to be about 15 feet to me but I can't be sure) out of the arrangement, since once he tilted the rotor hub the blades were not being driven any more and rapidly span down.

True autogyros are not even particularly short take-off vehicles either. The Wallis design (Little Nellie) used a flex-drive to spin the rotor up in an effort to reduce the runway length needed to get aloft. The lack of vertical take-off or landing capability is what led to the eclipse of the autogyro by the helicopter.

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Boffin

@dirk

because unfortunately he is a bit of an ecsentric old mentalist.

hell, I think he is a top bloke, but his stance on, for example not selling his gyros to the public for leisure, etc just makes him look more of a fruitcase.

Look at the way skydiving came on through the 80s - it was driven by the recreation industry and adopted by the military because these sort of entrenched believes that big govs have only get erroded by over welming odds, not by one bloke shouting.

If he'd started sellings 'little nelles'in the 60s I have no doubt we'd have some amazing autogyros and gyrocopters now. Its a damn shame imho - it could probably have been developed into one of the safest and accesibly forms of flying given a bit of investiment.

As it is - I''ll continue to fly my paramotors.

Cmdr. Stu

p.s. "ok boys.. I want u to rig up a 3d imagining of this flying thing we want to build - now then.. spend 80% of the 3d design budget on the background... after all it's not like we have the slightest idea what it'll look like when we build it" - I mean... what the hell is that picture like.... sack yer graphic design department now u muppets.

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Pirate

It's not the technology

... that stops flying personal vehicles from being affordable and available.

What good is all the investment in speed cameras / souped up police "interceptors" / road traps when no one is on the roads? How would your local council make money off of it then?

Parking - OF COURSE!

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WANT!

"CarterCopterCar requires a parking space or garage 45 foot across"

It's a good thing I've got small feet.

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Happy

Hmmm

That elevator looks suspiciously close to the propwash and a tad on the small side for me.

Rudder looks ok but elevator authority doesn't look great without armfuls of input. Those skinny little wings will probably be loaded quite high even with the rotor helping out. I wonder also if the rotor and the prop spin in opposite directions synchronised to iron out any annoying banking and oscillating tendencies.

I bet jump take-offs are fun transitioning between ground friction keeping you straight and aerodynamics. I think future versions will have a rear rotor.

Why don't they just put variable profile wings in; perhaps inflatable? Thick and cambered for high lift and a short take-off run then suck the air out for out cruise before inflating them again for a nice slow landing?

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The non-hovering ability? You'd be surprised!

Check this video out. Pity about the sound-track, which is NSFW, but...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UMaGsg9cg0

It's an ELA Aviaccion 08, and I fuc*king WANT ONE!! (Santa, I've been a good boy so far today. So I'm asking you nicely before I get out of bed. Pleeease! Only about €40K)

As David Coleman would've said "Quite, quite remarkable!"

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Happy

Some out of date comments here.....

Gyrocopters are 'safer' then helicopters because they are always 'falling'. The 'wings' rotors are turned by being pushed forward by a tail prop...cut the prop and the thing drops 'gently' to the ground....Cost of building one inn the UK....£10,000. There are very few models that can be flown in the UK because of the extreme requirements of airworthy certification required by the CAA. There is the merlin and the cricket http://www.gyrokits.com/WELCOME.html. Most gyros flown in the UK are very well built and very expensive German made MT-03 s (circa £60-70000). Most accidents in the past have been due to 'experienced fixed wing pilots' trying to go too fast too low and often at air displays. Showing off wouldn't be an unfair term... Gyros have a bad reputation because fixed wingers often don't understand them.

Try a flight for £80 at http://www.chrisjonesgyroplanes.co.uk/ absolutely brilliant.

ps Chris said a lot of his clients like me work in IT....wonder why propeller heads like autogyro's

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Stop

Human Drivers

I would be afraid to leave my underground bunker if my neighbors had autogyros

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@Dirk

If I remember right Ken's early autogyros were used by the military. Take off is short enough for him to lift off down his drive.

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Pint

@ Some out of date comments here.....

"cut the prop and the thing drops 'gently' to the ground"

Oh, really? Motor cuts on final. No chance to use runway, so grass field only option.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2YOFcZr2tM

(Happened in Ireland. Amazingly, the pilot was totally unscathed - walked away. RAF definition of 'a good landing')

Beer Icon, 'cos I bet he needed one after that.

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@Dirk Koopman

I was thinking exactly the same thing... Autogyros have had the ability to engage drive to the top rotor for many many years.

@Andus McCoatover I don't really get your point, are you saying that they are dangerous or not... He walked away from in unscathed didn't he? Take off and landing are the most dangerous times for any aircraft, you just don't have the height or time to make any kind of recovery. The engine cut and drops gently to the ground theory works only for helicopters and gyros when they have the height or momentum. If you are hovering 20 feet above the ground with no forward momentum, altitude or time to use to generate some downward momentum and the engine dies, then you and gravity are going to be having a disagreement very shortly!

If you have the height you use the drop to get the blades spinning, very much how the original article describes the vertical jump, get the energy into the rotors, then just before you meet the ground in a very intimate way, you pitch the blades so their rotation provides a lift and slows your decent.

Just like this... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phaWRjAVnes

At least in the UK the helicopter pilot licence requires you to be able to perform a controlled landing without power.

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Fairey Rotodyne still the one to beat

Carter frequently gives a referential nod to the Fairey Rotodyne which had the rotors powered by tip jets so that it could take off vertically. In fact the last 50 years have not seen anyone improve on the Rotodyne as a practical VTOL transport. The US Osprey is the obvious contender but the hairy scary complexity of the technology gets you very little more practical performance, a miserable advance for 50 years.

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Jobs Horns

1000lb of payload eh?

That's just about sufficient for your average American male.

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Coat

Where have I heard this before?

"....."jump" to a surprising height like this, clearing 50 foot buildings...."

You're saying that it can leap tall buildings with a single bound?

"It's a bird. It's a plane. It's..........one of those gyrocopter thingies."

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Welcome

blah

see icon.

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Joke

@Steve Evans

No, Steve, my point was that if a gyro engine cuts out, it's just as vulnerable as a plane over the Hudson. It's really a matter of luck, what's the wind doing at the time etc, no matter how well skilled the PIC is.

No offence to any gyro ops. here intended. You folks have my admiration. And, you can also borrow my straight-jacket and padded bedroom if you like.

Of course, you could always use it in the kitchen...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8KsAPoSuPI

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Dirk Koopman.....

The PPL-G in the UK also requires you to do a landing without power....check this guy out in the states .http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajM3yOojPbg...as I said most fixed wingers dont understand that the latest gyro's are ''''''safe''''' note the quotes !

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Steve Evans...

hmmm Fixed winger ?.....by the way the Fairy Rotordyne was brilliant but the real interesting aircraft for the future is this baby....http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDOuoG6ljZA.

Its the tip jet. It has all the advantages of a heli without the mechanical complexity and training. Look towards the end of the video if you really want to see what this beaut can do...vertical take off like a rocket !!!

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