Grasping at an opening in the market for a low-cost platform optimised for the booming aerial surveillance market, UK-based Gyrojet is single-handedly attempting to revive the autogyro.
The privately financed aerospace start-up is using the Farnborough air show to publicly reveal the Scorpion S3, a concept aircraft quietly in development since 2004.
The aircraft features a rotor mast that sweeps forward from the empennage at its base to the centre of gravity at the rotor hub, locately directly over the pilot's seat. In this configuration, the rotor mast doubles as a vertical stabiliser, with the rudder blended into the trailing edge. As an autogyro, the rotor mast is not required to contain a helicopter's bulky drive train and gearbox.
The aircraft can be powered in forward flight with either a piston or a gas turbine, says James Robb, sales and marketing director for Gyrojet advanced autogyros.
The company believes many law enforcement agencies want an aerial platform less costly to operate than a helicopter and with a more-effective low-speed envelope than a fixed-wing aircraft, Robb says. The Scorpion, a tail-dragger, takes-off after a short roll and requires a 25kt wind to remain airborne.
The aircraft model has successfully cleared wind tunnel testing, with the design proving more stable than initially hoped, says Robb. Deliveries could begin as early as 2012, and letters of intent from new customers are expected shortly by company officials.