China to produce Groen gyroplane

Washington DC
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Gyroplane kit manufacturer Groen Brothers says that it has entered into a joint venture agreement with Guangzhou, China-based Suntrans to produce in China a family of light aircraft based on its SparrowHawk design.

The latest version of the $50,000 kit features a fuel-injected 165hp Subaru engine, side-by-side seating, a three-bladed pusher prop and 9.1m (30ft)-diameter free-spinning main rotor.

The Foshan Suntrans-Groen Aviation joint venture agreement calls for Suntrans to manufacture, assemble and sell the SparrowHawk kit into the "US and world markets, followed over the next few years by a fully assembled light gyroplane using technology transferred by [Groen] to the [joint venture]," says Groen in a press release.

Suntrans is investing $11 million into the $14 million joint venture, with Groen contributing the remaining 25% and transferring "certain advanced gyroplane technology", says the company.

Groen notes that the agreement "will come into force upon the approval of the appropriate Chinese regulatory authorities".

The pairing comes as the Chinese government last year rolled out a program to open to the public certain airspace below 3,000m.

"An aircraft that's easy and safe to fly, highly manoeuvrable and needing only a very short runway, which is essentially what the SparrowHawk gyroplane is, ought to be very popular in China as the country opens up to a new generation of private pilots," says Al Waddill, Groen's vice president of business development.