The strangest came in 1967’s You Only Live Twice, when 007 climbed into an aircraft that his friend Tiger Tanaka—and likely the audience—dismissed as “a toy helicopter.”
Among the many configurations being developed for future electric air taxis—everything from drone-like multirotor affairs to machines with both wings and tilting propellers—the gyrocopter might prove to be the most readily adaptable to the task, given its simplicity and known safety characteristics.
The gyro predates the helicopter, having been invented in the early 1920s and used throughout the ’30s and ’40s, even delivering mail between rooftops in US cities.
“There were a few things that are really attractive about gyros in urban air mobility,” says Skyworks’ CTO Don Woodbury, a former program manager at Darpa.
In 1986, Groen Brothers Aviation Inc. was founded and an acquisition of the company was started in December 2012 by Skyworks Global. On April 24, 2017, Groen Brothers was rebranded as Skyworks Global, Inc.
The eGyro is a concept all-electric autogyro aircraft that was first discussed by Peter Littlewood and Don Woodbury in early 2018, with the initial concept development beginning in May of 2018. No prototypes have been built but are in the planning process – expected in late 2020 or early 2021.
For take-off, the eGyro uses an electric motor to rotate the main rotorblades so it can take off vertically without a runway. Then once in forward flight, the rotorblades will autorotate for sustained lift for the aircraft. The eGyro is an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, using batteries for a power source and two (2) electric motors, one (1) to power the rotorblades and one (1) electric motor for the pusher propeller. The pusher-propeller is for forward flight. It’s design uses adapted automotive batteries and electric motors.
The booming sport gyroplane community in the 1980s nevertheless suffered a high accident rate, much of it attributed to poor design. Groen designed the hands-off stable SparrowHawk to fix the safety issues of kit gyroplanes.
Emergency autorotation performance improved dramatically by being able to change collective pitch during descent. Collective pitch control could enhance gyroplane safety, especially in less than 1G maneuvers. Collective pitch also enables gyroplanes to spin-up on the ground at flat pitch, store energy in the rotor, and take off vertically with rapid collective input as the aircraft accelerates. In addition, it provides a means to optimize rotor speed for greater cruise efficiency.
Autogyro Benefits and Features:
A less complex aircraft which translates to lower purchasing cost, lower operating cost, lower maintenance cost, lower weight of aircraft, increases aircraft availability, increases efficiency, increases range and increases endurance (hours in the air)
The eGyro is scalable, depending upon the energy source. A larger version of the aircraft might need to use a hybrid-electric propulsion source. Skyworks also plans an unmanned version (the ScoutHawk) for border security, defense, pipeline inspection and other security-related applications.
The eGyro has a fundamental safety advantage over most eVTOL concepts in that the main rotor in forward flight is always in autorotation. The eGyro can land safely in any part of the flight envelope with or without power. No parachute required.
Skyworks is the world leader in the science and technology of gyronautics, focusing on the design and development of high-performance gyroplanes. Using highly advanced technology and modern aerospace science, engineering, and design methods, we strive to make air travel safer, more cost-efficient and effective.
Skyworks has been developing manned and unmanned vertical lift gyroplane technologies for more than two decades. These advanced sustained autorotative flight technologies enable aircraft to be both runway independent and economical, and yet remain unconstrained by the physics imposed speed, range, and payload limitations of a helicopter. After 25 years of research and development and more than 40 patents issued and more under application, Skyworks is the undisputed global leader in gyronautics — the science of safety, simplicity, and sustainability applied practically to change the way people and goods move about the globe.
Type of aircraft: eVTOL autogryo
Capacity: 2-4 passengers
Speed: 100-150 mph (161-241 km/h)
Range: 100 miles (161 km)
Electric Motors: 2
Power source: Batteries
Tail: A tail with 2 booms
Landing gear: Retractable
Safety features: If a power failure occurs, can land safety to the ground. It’s a less complex than a helicopter which reduces the likelihood of mechanical failures.