Gyrodyne: Wikis


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Fairey FB-1 Gyrodyne developed by Dr. Bennett
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A Gyrodyne is a rotorcraft with a rotor system that is normally driven by its engine for takeoff and landing—hovering like a helicopter and has either one or two propellers mounted on wingtips, for propulsion and for torque correction. Dr. James Allan Jamieson Bennett conceived the gyrodyne while serving as Chief Engineer at Cierva Autogiro Company, Ltd. The gyrodyne was envisioned an intermediate type of rotorcraft, its rotor operating parallel to the flightpath to minimize axial flow with one or more propellers providing propulsion.

There is controversy over the correct usage of the term gyrodyne stemming from the difference between the description in Bennett's patent, the use of the term as a trademark by the Gyrodyne Company of America, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) classification of rotorcraft, and the terms compound helicopter and compound gyroplane frequently used to describe similar aircraft. In recent years, a related concept has been promoted under the name heliplane. Originally used to market gyroplanes built by two different companies, the term has been adopted to describe a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program to develop advances in rotorcraft technology with the goal of overcoming the current limitations of helicopters in both speed and payload.



In Britain, Dr. James Allan Jamieson Bennett, Chief Engineer of the Cierva Autogiro Company, in 1936 conceived an intermediate type of rotorcraft, which he named "gyrodyne" and which was tendered to the British Government in response to an Air Ministry specification. In 1939, Bennett was issued a patent from the UK Intellectual Property Office, assigned to the Cierva Autogiro Company. On 23 August 1940, the Autogiro Company of America, licensees of the Cierva Autogiro Company, Ltd., filed a corresponding patent application in the United States. On 27 April 1943, Patent# 2,317,340 was issued, assigned to the Autogiro Company of America. The patents describe a gyrodyne as:

a rotary wing aircraft intermediate in type, hereinafter referred to as "gyrodyne", between a rotaplane (with the rotor free for autorotation and an upward total axial flow through the rotor disc), on the one hand, and a pure helicopter (with the rotor driven, and a downward total axial flow through the rotor disc), on the other hand, that is with a mean axial flow through the rotor disc substantially zero at high forward speed.[1]

Bennett's concept described a shaft-driven rotor, with anti-torque and propulsion for translational flight provided by one or more propellers mounted on short or stub wings. With thrust being provided by the propellers at cruise speeds, power would be provided to the rotor only sufficient to the amount needed to overcome the profile drag of the rotor, operating in a more efficient manner than the freewheeling rotor of an autogyro in autorotation. Bennett described this flight regime of the gyrodyne as an "intermediate state", requiring power to be supplied to both the rotor and the propulsion system.


Early development

The Cierva Autogiro Company, Ltd., C.41 gyrodyne pre-WW2 design study was updated and built by Fairey Aviation as the FB-1 Gyrodyne commencing in 1945. Fairey's development efforts were initially led by Bennett, followed by his successor Dr. George S. Hislop. George B.L. Ellis and Frederick L. Hodgess, engineers from the pre-WW2 Cierva Autogiro Company, Ltd., joined Bennett at Fairey Aviation. The first Fairey Gyrodyne prototype crashed during a test flight, killing the crew. The second Gyrodyne prototype was rebuilt as the Jet Gyrodyne and used to develop a pressure-jet rotor drive system later for the Rotodyne transport compound gyroplane. At the tip of each stub wing were rearward-facing propellers which provided both yaw control and propulsion in forward flight. The Jet Gyrodyne flew in 1954, and made a true transition from vertical to horizontal flight in March 1955.

This led to the prototype Fairey Rotodyne, which was developed to combine the efficiency of an fixed-wing aircraft at cruise with the VTOL capability of a helicopter to provide short haul airliner service from city centres to airports. It had short wings that carried turboprop engines for forward propulsion and up to 40% of the aircraft's weight in forward flight. The rotor was driven by tip-jets for take-off and landing and translational flight up to 80 mph. Despite considerable commercial and military interest worldwide in the prototype Type Y Rotodyne for air transport, Fairey decided to develop a larger and more powerful Type Z Rotodyne which, together with withdrawal of British Government support in 1962, resulted in the termination of the project. With the end of the Fairey Aviation programs, gyrodyne development came to a halt, although several similar concepts continued to be developed.

Similar developments

In 1954, the McDonnell XV-1 was developed as a rotorcraft with tip jets to provide vertical take off capability. The aircraft also had wings and a propeller mounted on the rear of the fuselage between twin tailbooms with two small anti-torque rotors mounted at the end. Two prototypes were built and tested, with the second XV-1 became the world's first rotorcraft to exceed 200 mph in level flight on 10 October 1956. The XV-1 project was terminated in 1957.

Compound autogyro

In 1998, Carter Aviation Technologies successfully flew its technology demonstrator aircraft. The aircraft is a compound autogyro with a high-inertia rotor and wings optimized for high-speed flight. In 2005, the aircraft demonstrated flight at mu-1, with the rotor tip spinning at a speed equal to the aircraft's forward airspeed, without any vibration or control issues occurring. The high-inertia rotor allows the aircraft to hover for a brief moment during landing, even though the rotor is unpowered, and a prerotating gearbox allows the rotor to be accelerated for an autogyro-style jump takeoff.


In 1954, Kayaba built an aircraft named the Heliplane. The Heliplane was a Cessna 170 with wings reduced to stubs sufficient to carry the undercarriage and a rotor powered by tip ram-jets.[2]

DARPA is funding a project under the "Heliplane" name to develop the gyrodyne concept.[3] Aircraft developed for the project will use a rotor for take-off and landing vertically, and hovering, together with substantial wings to provide most of the required lift at cruise, combining the large cargo capacity, fuel efficiency, and high cruise speed of fixed-wing aircraft with the hovering capabilities of a helicopter. The project is "..a multi-year $40-million, four-phase program. Groen Brothers is working on phase one of that program, a 15-month effort...(it) combines the "gyroplane" ..with a fixed-wing business jet. The team is using the A700, in the very-light-jet class, which was developed by Adam Aircraft Industries."[4]


"Gyrodyne" was granted as a trademark to the Gyrodyne Company of America in 1950.[citation needed] The company was not involved in gyrodyne development, but instead produced a turbine-engined, remotely-piloted drone helicopter, with coaxial rotors, for the United States Navy, designated as the QH-50 DASH.


See also


  1. ^ Bennett, James A.J. U.S. Patent 2,317,340: Helicopter. 27 April 1943. Retrieved on 26 August 2009.
  2. ^ Kayaba "Heliplane" helicopter - development history, photos, technical data
  3. ^ Tactical Technology Office. "Heliplane". Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Retrieved on 27 August 2009.
  4. ^ McKenna, James T. "One Step Beyond", Rotor & Wing, February, 2007, page 54
  • "The Fairey Gyrodyne." J.A.J. Bennett. Journal of the Royal Aeronautical Society, 1949, Vol. 53
  • "Aerodynamics of the Helicopter". Alfred Gessow & Garry C. Myers, Jr. Frederick Ungar Publishing Company, NY. 1952, republished 1962.
  • "Principles of Helicopter Aerodynamics". J. Gordon Leishman, Cambridge University Press, N.Y. 2000, reprinted 2005.
  • "Principles of Helicopter Engineering". Jacob Shapiro, Temple Press Ltd., London, 1955.
  • "Development of the Autogiro : A Technical Perspective" : J. Gordon Leishman: Hofstra University, New York, 2003.
  • From Autogiro to Gyroplane : The Amazing Survival of an Aviation Technology: Bruce H. Charnov, 2003.

External links


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