Heliplane Research Continues


Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has given Groen Brothers Aviation the green light (and $6.4 million) to continue its efforts to develop a militarily-capable aircraft that lands and takes off like a helicopter but flies as fast and as far as a conventional airplane. In a news release, Salt Lake City-based Groen Brothers said DARPA had passed its submission of the third milestone of its contract to develop the aircraft, whatever that means. Groen Brothers are big believers in the “gyrodyne” concept for such an aircraft. Essentially, it’s a gyrocopter with jet engines on the tips of the rotors that run only when the plane is in helicopter mode. The concept has worked. The British firm Fairey developed a 44-passenger gyrodyne that performed as advertised but never attracted the commercial interest needed to put it into production. Groen Brothers is aiming for a proof-of-concept vehicle that will go 370 knots for 1,000 nm and carry a 1,000-lb. payload. Among those working on the project with Groen are Adam Aircraft, Williams International and various government and academic organizations. The current design and study phase is expected to last 15 months.