INN Poland: Poles invented an aircraft at a price of a good car
Konrad Bagiński, A JOURNALIST, INNPOLAND.PL EDITOR
The scientists of Lublin University of Technology designed an engine for Taifun, a Polish gyroplane. The machine costs as much as a good limousine, and you can get in two hours from Warsaw to the seaside.
What is a gyroplane? It looks like a helicopter, but this is rather an airplane’s cousin. A rotor at the top gives it a lifting force. It is propelled only while taking off, then it rotates on its own, only with the air flowing around it. Therefore, it has a function similar to an airplane’s wing. So it is not – like in a helicopter – the source of propulsion during the flight. An ordinary propeller is.
“A gyroplane must accelerate, it doesn’t float up in the air like a helicopter, it cannot “hang” in the air. However, it’s a lot simpler and cheaper, both in purchase and in usage,” – tells INN:Poland Patryk Kazimierski from Aviation Artur Trendak company which produces gyroplanes in Poland as one of few companies.
A 150-metre runway is enough for it to take off. It doesn’t have to be hardened, a plain meadow is sufficient. It can be parked in a garage and can take off and land on your own terrain. The airport doesn’t have to be registered, which is a requirement for landing pads for helicopters and airplanes.
What is more, a gyroplane’s engine works on “regular” fuel. Jet fuel is more expensive and only available at several airports in Poland. At some of them it is even necessary to pay an additional amount for refuelling service or refuelling outside fixed hours (even 400 – 500 PLN), or to pay a higher price for buying a certain amount (e.g. 1000 litres).
Moreover, we do not actually recommend 98 petrol, 95 is better. There’s no point in overpaying, this engine likes this petrol. We have even had such flights in Africa where it had to work on 83 petrol and it actually flew, tells INN:Poland Michał Trendak, the company founder’s son.
For 10 years we have produced and sold over 200 items. 95 per cent of our production is exported. In Poland there must be about 20-30 gyroplanes of different brands, and half of them is ours. It’s not a big market, people still use rather ultralight aircrafts, which are a little cheaper. It’s obvious that if you don’t fly a gyroplane, you will not give up an airplane. But when you decide to fly it, you will notice a huge difference, he claims.
What is the intended use of gyroplanes? It’s not a typical means of transport, though if someone lives, for example, in Warsaw and has a summer house in Mazury region, it is a good choice.
Ultralight aircrafts have similar features, they burn less fuel and they’re faster. An asset of a gyroplane is its manoeuvrability and possibility to land on a very small strip of land. Even though it needs 100 – 150 metres to fly into the air, it can virtually land on an area of a few metres. Gyroplanes would work in recreation rather than as air taxis, says Trendak.
However, we can see the increase of interest in gyroplanes in services, such as scanning some lands, as we did with one open-pit mine. It also helps control power lines and gas pipelines. Currently, we are entering dynamically an agricultural sector. Thanks to gyroplanes it is easy to use biosecurity measures, and we’ve also started a project of precision agriculture support. Thanks to scanning fields we know exactly where to use how much fertilizer or overspray, he claims.
A gyroplane does 95% of what a helicopter does for 10% of the price,” he adds. These types of machines also have other, typically working uses. “In the armies of several countries there are gyroplanes, even ours. Some of them are really useful, for example in Columbia. They surprised planters growing partly illegal plants and had a great influence on the fight against drug dealing, says Trendak. In contrast, in South Africa and other African countries, gyroplanes helped patrol power lines. Thieves stole wires and sold them for scrap.
What’s interesting, you don’t need a Private Pilot Licence (PPL) to pilot a gyroplane. It’s enough to have a certificate of competence, just like for ultralight airplanes. You get it like a driving licence or even more easily in my view, because you usually take the exam only once, says Trendak.
We have been cooperating with Lublin academies for a long time. At first, it was the University of Life Sciences with which we implemented agriculture programmes. Later in the project financed by EU, in the framework of which our latest gyroplane Taifun was created, we had Lublin University of Technology make a modification of an engine by Rotax, an Austrian company. Thanks to that, instead of carburetors, it has an electronically controlled injection, which is a lot more precise and modern, says Michał Trendak.
Rotax is actually the only company of global reach which provides engines for ultralight machines. These are robust and tested constructions, though not too modern. Three Lublin scientists together with four students raised the engine power from 100 to 140 horsepower thanks to modifications. It took them 6 months. Injection enables better engine control. The previous models by a Polish company, Taurus, Tercel, and Twistair, also had modified engines, but it was the company engineers who took care of this. They added boosters to the machines. The previous constructions are of course still available for sale.
Taifun takes two people on board and its maximum take-off weight is 560 kg. It’s going to be on sale in August 2017. Depending on the configuration, it costs from 127 to 135 thousand euro. The producer is already planning to build other models, including a six-person model.
Helicopters are several times more expensive. A second-hand high-class machine, which is several years old, costs at least 1 million PLN, more often even 2 – 2.5 million PLN. Meanwhile, Taifun costs from 127 to 135 thousand euro, so more or less 550 – 580 thousand PLN. It may not be the price of a Golf, but of a high-class limousine. A second-hand gyroplane is a lot cheaper – it may cost 1/3 of this amount.
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