success of the Blois meeting reflects that of the ULM (Ultra light machine)
movement. With about 6000 federation (French Ultra light federation) members
in 2000, then 8000 in 2003 we are now more than 10,000
This is the result of liberal ULM rules and a strong federation guaranteeing
the rights we've acquired.
The meeting welcomed some 50,000 visitors and the arrival of the machines,
like a cloud of mosquitoes was really impressive.
All this without radio and without problem. A little dig at our general
aviation friends who can't seem to do without radio.
Autogyros their rebirth is really quite recent. It is only in the last
2 to 3 years that we have seen new manufacturers on the scene.
DF02 from Gyrotec:
Obermaier (Gyrotec boss) was present with his superb, fully enclosed single
place gyro. Unfortunately, the gyro still wasn't finished and remained
on the static display. We are following the development of this top of
the range single place gyro that we have already mentioned on our website.
Anyway it allowed us to get to know Michaël who we only knew through
the internet before. He's really a cool guy. He supplied the Magni stand
with beer while Eric Changeur competed with his wine. That's collaborative
A1, A2, A3
Contact: Michaël OBERMAIER GYROTEC
Airbet is made in Spain. We've seen it a number of times especially at
the Bois de Pierre meeting.
The conception of this gyro is really different because the frame is made
from formed and welded steel tube. The strength of this structure shouldn't
be a problem but with a welded chassis the landing mustn't be too hard
or it's all in the trash can. But that's also true for many other gyros:
Magni, MT03, ELA
The rotor is Aluminium anodised black which really looks good and the
streamlining of the instrument pod and wheel pants look nice as well.
The rod end bearings for the controls are correctly sized at 10 mm ( 3/8")
contrary to what I had advised before.
had a satisfactory flying demonstration of the cheapest factory built
autogyro available at 17,400€. This being said it is a single place
gyro with a Rotax 503 which might be a bit short for the heavier ones
questionable however are the inbuilt security aspects of this design.
We have constantly repeated over the years, that to be stable an autogyro
must have a high centre of gravity and/or a well sized horizontal stabilizer.
This isn't the case for this gyro.
We've discussed this point with the designer via internet forums and he
assures us that his gyro is stable, emphasising that first, we haven't
flown it (which is true) and second the stabilizer is in the prop wash
(which is also true).
may be true but the stabilization of autogyros is scientifically proven
and demonstrated by the thousands of gyros that have been built in the
world and the dozens of deaths of those who didn't know the basics or
chose to ignore them.
really wouldn't take much to lengthen the stabilizer. Apart from that
it's a good opportunity for a restricted budget.
Pictures: B1, B2, B3
for the other manufacturers to catch up, the only alternative for a factory
built single place gyro is the Magni M18, for a reasonable price of 25,000
€ (all taxes included) you get a safe, solid gyro that has proven
itself, with a 65 HP Rotax 582, a streamlined open cockpit and a good
pre rotator. On the other hand all this is reflected in the weight. Sometimes
it's better to wait a bit longer.
there are always homebuilt gyros where you find the good and bad deals
side by side! For example, at Blois there was a single place gyro for
sale privately for about 6000€ that was at least ten years old. Fitted
with a 503 and a very small stabilizer this was not the good deal it appeared
unless the buyer was warned of the shortcomings of such a machine.
I wouldn't give much for the life of the new gyro pilot, having learned
to fly on a modern stable machine, finding himself on this one in the
state it was in.
that there are some good deals to be had in the homebuilt market but please
ask your instructor for his advice before buying, this isn't a model aeroplane,
you are going to find yourself sitting in what you buy...
Crédits photos:Jacques HOUDAILLE.
TWO PLACE AUTOGYROS:
recent luxury gyro, that we have already reported, has never been demonstrated
in flight neither at Angouleme, Bois de Pierre nor at Blois. An example
has flown however, but was recently subject of an accident killing one
of our friends Gaëtan Thiercelin. He's been an autogyro pilot for
a number of years and we'll all miss his kindness.
We don't know much about the cause of the accident except that the machine
had been modified because it was 30 kg (66lb) (that's enormous) overweight.
This was achieved mainly by the replacement of the American Sportcopter
rotor by the French Aircopter model.
Having proved themselves on both sides of the Atlantic, there is little
chance of the rotor being the cause of the accident. However the second
rotor was much lighter than the first and that surely changed the centre
the BEA (French accident investigation department) finish their inquiry
there could be many reasons for the accident that have nothing to do with
the gyro, the pilot fainting for one, in the mean time we've lost a friend.
far as ELA goes there are some changes.
In the past there were big problems between ELA and their first distributor
in France, Aircopter, then with the second distributor Aerotrophy, leader
in the ULM market.
Since then the distribution agency was taken by Médoc-ULM-Evasion
under the name "ELA France", let's hope that the relationship
between the two is more professional than in the past. Inspired by the
Magni and being the source of inspiration for the German MT03, this gyro
has returned to its source and, like its competitor Magni, proposes a
small windscreen to protect the rear passenger.
If you haven't managed to follow all this it's not surprising!!
Note that this windscreen is biased to the left to allow the instructor
in the rear to have his own instruments and not have to lean over to see
those in the front cockpit. A bit strange but useful.
there are more than 70 ELAs in the world, mainly in South Africa and Australia,
which is surprising considering its recent arrival on the scene and the
limited feedback from the internet.
weight is 277 kg (610 lb) equipped with a Rotax 914, plus 13 kg (29 lb)
with a parachute. Apart from a few American manufacturers only ELA offer
This is a debatable option because we usually fly too low to allow the
full deployment of the chute. Also it requires the pilot to make a very
rapid decision and to have removed the safety pin prior to the flight.
Finally nobody has ever tested a parachute on an autogyro.
Having said that it must also be said that the 3000 € extra is not
a lot compared to the cost of a two place gyro and you life is priceless
The competition should therefore take note and perhaps one day a parachute
may save the lives of one of our pilots. For sure in the last 3 years
it could have saved 2 in France alone, the rotor stopped dead in less
than 4 seconds.
ELA costs 52,000 € (all taxes included) without parachute. A technical
specification has been submitted to the authorities and a dedicated web
site should be on line soon.
In France: Philippe Belle-Croix 06 27 34 49 85 www.medoc-ulm-evasion.com
Xenons were present at Blois and we were able to see them both fly.
Without having taken exact measurements, we saw that their performance
was obviously inferior to that of the Magni, MT03 and ELA that flew in
parallel. This is to be expected, since drag increases with the frontal
area a streamlined side by side will never outperform a tandem gyro unless
the tandem was a mess of tube without streamlining. Also the cockpit masks
the propeller and reduces the efficiency of this type of gyro.
But what is important for you? If you want to fly fast, better fly a classic
ULM rather than a gyro. So if you want to enjoy the cosiness of a side
by side fully enclosed gyro and it doesn't bother you to be burned off
by the high performance tandems you can opt for a Xenon.
The problem is that you would use more fuel and make more noise. You have
to pay for comfort!
the two Xenons at Blois there were two different pre rotators, the starter
motor type and the mechanical drive type. A bit of advice, forget the
first one, the take off run is pretty long without a headwind, invest
about 2,260 € more in the higher performance of second type, it's
not worth going without.
the engine, the Xenon is still equipped with the Hirth F30 with 2 cooling
fans. We've spent some time debating this choice of a non-liquid-cooled
engine, especially as the Xenon is usually fitted with a pretty cowling
around the engine. Having said this, the engine cowlings were removed
at Blois because of the high ambient temperature.
Putting this type of cowling on a pusher gyro seems to us to be more a
sales catch than a utility, especially considering that a gyro has flight
configurations that tend to create high engine temperatures such as during
slow flight. Finally the pre flight is much easier without one
Considering that this is choosing an engine that has sometimes had bad
press reports in the ULM world (rightly or wrongly) we would have thought
that using its little brother the 3 cylinder water cooled 100 HP Hirth
would be a wiser choice. Or simply turn to the competition and use a Rotax
engine, more expensive but reassuringly more reliable.
the price, there's no denying that the Xenon is the cheapest two place
This difference is explained primarily by the use of the 2 stroke Hirth
engine while the competition usually use the 4 stroke Rotax whose prices
Starting with the 36,000 € base price, add a real pre rotator and
two doors and you arrive at 40,000 €, if you have it built at the
factory you finish with 47,000 €.
If the manufacturer changed the Hirth for a Rotax the price would rise
to 58,000€ ready to fly, that's the same price as the competition.
Meanwhile it's the only two place gyro to be offered in kit form, an opportunity
for those who love to build their own machine.
For the engine, ABS have taken a big risk in being different to their
competitors, because production of the Xenon has only just started, they'll
have to prove its reliability, only time will tell. But that's the challenge
for all innovative manufacturers.
B1, B2, B3
3 days after the publication of this predictive article, ABS announced
on their website that other engines could be installed on the Xenon.
The F30 remains available and the price has taken a substantial hike to
40,664€ for the kit without doors, that's about 48,000€ (all
taxes included) for the ready to fly gyro.
As we suggested the 3 cylinder Hirth 3701 will also be offered and at
the same price.
In the same manner ABS have increased the powerplant range to Rotax, which
is acceptable to all in the ULM movement. The prices are nothing like
before, with the 914, mechanical pre rotator, doors, leather upholstery
and heater the Xenon is propelled from the cheapest on the market to the
most expensive. At 58,364€ for the kit, that's about 66,000€
(all taxes included) for the ready to fly gyro. Note that the Magni M16,
which was until now the most expensive autogyro, costs 63,600€ (all
taxes included) ready to fly with all options. That said, the M21 completely
enclosed gyro that is still under development, will be more expensive
than the Xenon. No expense is too great for those in love apparently.
It is regrettable that ABS made an announcement about new engine options
when they are neither installed nor tested. Normally industries, especially
the aeronautical industry, complete the engineering, development and often
testing of a machine before putting it on the market.
On the other hand we can only congratulate this manufacturer for his rapid
response to customer feedback.
One last comment, our two place autogyros are not going to be financially
more accessible if Rotax monopolise this corner of the market by closing
the first opening made by Hirth.
pictures: A1 et B1: Michel de Bretagne. A2, A3, B2: Jacques HOUDAILLE.
4/ The MT03 by Autogyro Europe:
gyro is imported into France by J.PDoleac (Aircopter) who also supplys
the rotor. Initially inspired by ELA, it has now started to differentiate
itself with its typical German construction quality and some innovations,
especially in its top of the range fuselage partly in carbon fibre.
Saving as much as 10 kg (22lb) from an already lightweight gyro we find
ourselves at 235 kg (517 lb)! Needless to say the MT03 has an impressive
rate of climb for an autogyro and the overall performance is breathtaking?
The two MT03s at Blois never stopped flying which allowed us to appreciate
them even more.
the chassis, it is in stainless steel and so highly polished that you'd
think it was chrome.
It must be said that Autogyro Europe comes from a company having a solid
experience in powered hang gliders (the make Eagle) and with HTC propellers,
unknown in France but with a promising performance. They are, therefore,
well versed in stainless steel and composite construction. You only have
to look at the quality of the welding and fuselage to realise.
MT03 still hasn't been cleared by the DGAC (French FAA) because Aircopter
have proposed some minor modifications to the German manufacturer before
transmitting the final application for approval. This should all be finished
by the end of the year and the distribution network will be put in place
from then on.
-> Aircopter http://aircopter.chez.tiscali.fr/
area distributor: www.raidair.com
Gap-Tallard distributor: -> ULM Light System http://www.light-system.com/
in plural because apart from the dozen or so Magnis that flew to Blois
from all over France proving that these gyros are completely developed
and reliable, Magni remains the only manufacturer offering a complete
range of autogyros. Passing from the M18 single seat to a M22 full two
place touring gyro via the intimate two place M14 and standard two place
M16 giving four types of gyro, all with various options and engines.
we all know Magni has been the leader in the autogyro market for a number
of years, and the competition have done nothing to reduce their popularity.
With the 324th gyro delivered last week, many instructors have shown their
confidence in these gyros that have proved reliable, stable and long living.
It must be said that the frame in welded aeronautical steel and the very
costly Rotax 914 are major contributors to this reliability.
the disadvantages they are quickly listed. The weight remains high (when
are we going to see some carbon fibre?) and this is explained mainly by
the heavy rotor and the use of thicker sections of aeronautical steel
that are much heavier, but much stronger, than the stainless steel sections
used by LEA or the MT03. The tail tube remains straight while the competition
have gone for a "dog leg" to gain a few meters for the take
off and landing. Magni explain this choice by the fact that it is much
more rigid and prevents a take off "behind the curve", adding
safety. It's also easier to make
..The controls are still deliberately
very stiff to avoid Pilot induced oscillation by an inexperienced pilot.
The price remains high but not that high considering the expected life
of such a machine. For those who don't need dual control and want to be
close to their passenger there is always the possibility to go for the
intimate two place M14 Scout that sells for 48,000€ (all taxes included)
for the 100 HP version and 53,000€ for the 115 HP version. Prices
that remain equal to or less than the competition for a M14 with better
performance and manoeuvrability than its bigger brother the M16. An option
that is often forgotten.
big novelty at the Magni stand was the presentation of the M22 Voyager!
This very nice looking gyro is in fact an M16 equipped with two generous
(150 litre,5.3 cu ft) baggage compartments that can accept fairly long
items. It is also fitted with a supplementary 10 litre (2.6 US gal) fuel
tank bringing the total to 75 litre (20 US gal). It's not called Voyager
Price wise the M22 is about the same price as the M16 but it doesn't have
dual controls. You can sacrifice the extra fuel tank and fit a second
stick but, for the moment, not the rudder pedals.
The last discrete innovation from Magni is that the rotor manufacturing
process was modified last month. I had the pleasure of testing one last
week it's still very heavy, to maintain a high inertia, but I detected
French importer: Eric CHANGEUR, sté Rotavia http://rotavia.free.fr/
Paris area distributor: www.raidair.com
Gap-Tallard distributor: -> ULM Light System http://www.light-system.com/
photos: A1: Michel de Bretagne, B1 à D3: http://www.magnigyro.com.au/welcome.asp
6/ Homebuilt autogyros:
the price of new two place gyros the homebuild gyro is still a valid option.
This year at Blois we saw Roland Kloéti, who flew in from Paris
in the same gyro that he tried with floats last year (more
info in french). Except that this time it was equipped with wheels!
Deluc also made the journey to Blois with a single seat gyro and 2 two
place machines, one of which belongs to his buddy Jeannot COHEN who we
wrote about after the St Ciers (Angoulème) meeting (more
info in french).
A reminder for those who cannot afford a factory built gyro or who feel
capable of making their own gyro, Michel still sells plans of his two
place gyro. Combined with a Sabaru engine modified by Jos Schepers, for
example, this machine could be very economical if you have a few hundred
hours of patience available.
present amongst the homebuilds Alain SURRE and Jean-Marie BOUTIN presented
their two completely enclosed, side by side, two place gyros. Unfortunately
they were not completely finished and we should see them fly soon, surely
at the 1st May meeting at Angoulème. A further article about them
will appear soon.
TERRASSON 5 October 2005
Revised 7 Oct and 10 Oct
Translated by Mike Goodrich
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