Groen plans to adapt technology in its "Heliplane" project with DARPA to future gyroplane designs. Image courtesy of Groen
Groen Aeronautics Corp. plans to invest in a GAC ReconHawk Gyroplane Drone, the company said. In an announcement Monday, cash and commitments were cited with intent to put them toward financing the drone. This development would commercialize Groen’s pre-existing gyroplane technology to the drone market.
The company has already manufactured midsize gyroplanes that have received FAA type certificates. Groen has also completed flight tests on a light gyroplane series, which has not yet received certification. The initial production drone would be optionally manned, and the company has already started the effort to make it a reality. Like the other gyroplanes, it would operate at a lower cost than other VTOL aircraft, among other benefits.
Gyroplanes, and other gyrocopter models, feature an unpowered man rotor. This is where most of the cost-reduction lies, with the technology yielding no need for a tail rotor and allowing for a lighter main rotor. The simplification of the design when compared to a helicopter also makes for lower maintenance. However, gyroplanes cannot hover, as the rotor is constantly in autorotation when in flight.
While the drone edges closer to its transition from design to production, Groen has a GyroLiner, GyroFrighter and Heavy Lifter in the “future” category of development. The company currently holds about 40 issued patents with more in the works. Its Hawk 4 Gyroplane is the first commercially viable modern gyroplane. Groen is also working on a multimillion-dollar contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). It has completed the first phase of the DARPA-dubbed “Heliplane” contract and is working to manufacture an aircraft for use in combat search and rescue operations.