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Sat, Aug 19, 2006

DARPA Approves Groen Brothers' High Speed VTOL Concept

Project Moves To Phase One Of Development

Groen Brothers Aviation, Inc. told Aero-News this week the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has passed GBA's submission for the third Milestone of its contract to design a proof of concept high speed, long range, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft.

Phase One is a fifteen month $6.4 million award to perform trade studies, develop appropriate risk mitigation, perform extensive advanced computer modeling of the entire vehicle, develop the preliminary design for the Heliplane and complete the rotor system design.

As Aero-News reported last November, this modern rotorcraft -- named by DARPA as the "Heliplane" -- will utilize GBA's gyrodyne technology as developed for the company's "Gyrolifter" design proposal.

GBA defines a "gyrodyne" as an airplane that does not need a runway. It offers the VTOL capability of a helicopter, the fast forward flight of an airplane, and the safety, simplicity and reliability of a GBA gyroplane. The goal of this proof-of-concept demonstrator is a greater than two-fold improvement in speed and range performance over a conventional helicopter.

Groen Brothers Aviation says the Heliplane will have a cruise speed of 400 mph and an unrefueled range of 1,000 nm (1,152 miles). The proof-of-concept aircraft will also carry a 1,000 lb payload.

The objective expressed by DARPA is to obtain performance out of a rotary-wing aircraft that is comparable with fixed-wing airplanes in speed and efficiency. This aircraft type could be the next generation rotor wing aircraft, meeting economy and performance goals not considered achievable by any other type of VTOL aircraft.

GBA's team includes: The Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta; Adam Aircraft Industries with locations in both Colorado and Utah; Williams International with locations in both Michigan and Utah; and a highly renowned team of aerospace consultants including key members of the rotor-wing science cadre at Washington University in St. Louis, Penn State University, and the University of Maryland, as well as top rotor-wing scientists from throughout industry.

GBA reports the team is receiving important support from NASA Ames and the Army's AFDD team at NASA Ames Research Center in addition to leading Rotorcraft Technologists who for decades led much of this nation's advanced rotor-wing aircraft development efforts.

Through its American Autogyro division, Groen Brothers Aviation has also developed and is currently selling a smaller kit gyroplane, the two seat "SparrowHawk II," and is offering this aircraft as a safe, extremely economical Airborne Patrol Vehicle (APV) for law enforcement and other government applications. GBA is also developing a production two-seat gyroplane for both the "Airborne Law Enforcement" and the "Light Sport Aircraft" (LSA) markets.

FMI: www.groenbros.com, www.darpa.mil

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