Long Term Gyroplane/Rotordyne Research Starting To Pay
The US Defense Advanced
Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has selected a team led by Groen
Brothers Aviation, Inc. (GBA) to design a proof of concept high
speed, long range, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft
designed for use in Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR)
The US Air Force is currently conducting an evaluation of
helicopters for CSAR, to replace the HH-60 fleet. The HH-60 is too
small, too slow, and has far too little range to do the mission
even as well as the Vietnam-era HH-3 Jolly Green Giants and HH-53
Super Jolly Greens did.
The GBA prototype's purpose is to investigate technologies that
may be used in the rescue-craft-beyond-next.
David Groen, President, CEO and one of the eponymous brothers)
of Groen Brothers Aviation, said, "DARPA is a vastly diverse and
capable organization charged with developing the world’s most
advanced science in military technologies of every kind. The DARPA
team is an amazing collection of scientists, engineers, and
management and administrative cadre, the likes of which have no
equal. We are most impressed with their dedication and are
delighted with having been selected."
The team is led by GBA, but includes other notable industry
firms. Jay Groen, GBA’s Chairman of the Board, (and the other
Groen Brother), said, "Our team includes The Georgia Institute of
Technology, Adam Aircraft Industries, Williams International, and a
highly renowned team of aerospace consultants."
Phase one of this potentially multi-year $40 million four phase
program, begins with a fifteen month $6.4 million award to develop
the preliminary design and perform key technology
demonstrations. This modern rotorcraft, named by DARPA as the
“Heliplane” is designed to exploit GBA’s gyrodyne
technology, offering the VTOL capability of a helicopter, the fast
forward flight of an airplane, and the safety, simplicity and
reliability of a GBA gyroplane. This aircraft type could be
the next generation rotor wing aircraft, meeting economy and
performance goals not considered achievable by any other type of
DARPA is the central research and development organization for
the US Department of Defense (DoD). It tries to develop
technologies that will give US armed forces an advantage.
The GBA contract with DARPA is based upon the "gyrodyne"
concept. A gyrodyne looks like a winged helicopter, and like
a helicopter is capable of hovering and vertical takeoff and
landing. But the gyrodyne rotor is powered by a reaction jet,
and is only powered during hovering or vertical flight. In forward
flight, the gyrodyne's rotor autorotates like a gyroplane. The
classic example of a successful gyrodyne was the early-1960s Fairey
Rotodyne, which was canceled by one of the sporadic reorganizations
of the then-nationalized British aero industry.
Previous GBA gyrodyne proposals, as shown here, have been based
on the concept of a recycled C-130 Hercules fuselage, or at least,
been of C-130 size. While these images illustrate the gyrodyne
concept, the DARPA craft is likely to be smaller.
The gyrodyne offers the possibility of making an aircraft -- a
"convertiplane" -- combining the advantages of fixed-wing speed and
rotary-wing vertical take off and landing. The tilt-rotor concept,
as exemplified by the V-22 Osprey aircraft being introduced in the
US military now, can do this already, but the gyrodyne concept is
vastly more simple and economical.
GBA has previously developed several gyroplanes, including the
Hawk 4 (the world's first turboshaft-powered gyroplane) and the
Sparrowhawk amateur-built experimental and Light Sport gyro, which
is sold through the dealer network of Groen Brothers Aviation's
subsidiary, American Autogyro Incorporated.