Magazine 138/139 - page 18-19

It has come surging back onto the scene, just like in the title sequence of the James Bond film ‘You Only Live Twice’ that
popularised gyrocopters 46 years ago – but this time the main focus is in the world of science. This rather odd-looking
flying machine is a rotary-wing aircraft. However, it is not an engine that turns its rotors, but rather the air streaming past.
The rotor on the gyrocopter, also known as an autogyro, thus enters a state of ‘autorotation’. This principle of flight is as
simple as it is ingenious. Juan de la Cierva developed the first rotary wing aircraft as far back as the nineteen-twenties.
Its success story, however, did not begin in Germany until roughly 10 years ago. Since then, registrations have risen
consistently. Nevertheless, the ultra-light aircraft still poses many unanswered questions, making it an enticing object
of research.
Back in the spotlight – the gyrocopter conquers the skies
By Frauke Engelhardt
The small all-rounder
makes it big
Small gyrocopters are real all-rounders: they are quick to
deploy, inexpensive and are considered sturdy aircraft due to
their comparatively simple technology. They offer promising
flight characteristics, such as the ability to fly very slowly when
needed or to take off and land in extremely small spaces. Gyro-
copters can be operated safely in unfavourable weather condi-
tions such as strong winds or poor visibility, making them ideal
for use in air surveillance.
Since 2012, DLR, together with the German Federal
Agency for Technical Relief, THW, has been researching the
advantages of using gyrocopters during rescue operations.
Catastrophes always demand rapid response times. This is
where gyrocopters enter the equation – from the air, they can
shed light on the situation, for example to gather information
regarding the extent of damage or the number of persons
requiring rescue as well as their location.
In September 2012, a gyrocopter transmitted live video
images to a ground station during an earthquake drill. “The
aerial images provided by the gyrocopter were an extremely
effective way of getting a quick, general picture of the extent of
the damage, allowing us to tailor our assistance accordingly,”
says Ulf Langemeier, Director of Operations during the earth-
quake drill.
New flight system supports the pilots
A new gyrocopter, the AutoGyro Cavalon – D-MGTD –
has been used for joint research conducted by THW and DLR
since April 2013. The new gyrocopter, based in Braunschweig, is
to be fitted with a special infrared camera, to be controlled from
the cockpit, and intended for aerial reconnaissance. Moreover,
there are plans to develop a flight system to assist gyrocopter
pilots in complex mission situations. Once complete, it will be
unrivalled. Finally, the unusual flying machine will be put
through its paces in test flights to confirm its suitability for
everyday use and operational deployment.
The DLR Institute of Flight Systems aims to establish itself
as the leading institute in the field of autorotation research. Of
interest, for example, are better training simulators as well as
flight performance and flight characteristics. The researchers
also aim to improve flight performance and handling qualities of
gyrocopters, ensuring that the ‘small one’ will soon be a ‘great
all-rounder’. New licensing regulations will also be needed to
govern the commercial use of gyrocopters, which DLR is devel-
oping on the basis of scientific analyses of their in-flight proper-
ties. Stefan Levedag, Director of the Institute, adds: “We have,
by no means, fully explored the inherent potential of gyrocopter
technology; we are excited and looking forward to a bright
future with this flying miracle.”
More information:
The new gyrocopter of the type Cavalon of the company AutoGyro is
ready to be put throught its paces at DLR Braunschweig
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