German Gyro Now FAA Type Certified

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U.S. pilots now can buy a factory-built FAA-type-certified autogyro for the first time “probably in at least 60 years,” Bob Snyder, program manager at AutoGyroUSA, told AVweb on Monday. The Calidus autogyro, which has been flying in Europe since 2009, recently was awarded a type certificate in the seldom-used Part 23 primary category by FAA officials. Snyder said U.S. deliveries are set to start on Wednesday. “The first two are sold and we’ve already taken two more orders,” Snyder said. Pilots will need a gyroplane rating to fly the aircraft. “The easiest route, if you’re a private pilot, is to get a sport pilot gyro sign-off,” Snyder said. Active pilots can expect about 10 hours of transition training, he added.

Aircraft certified in the primary category are intended “exclusively for pleasure and personal use,” according to the FAA. Snyder said, however, the Calidus can be used for instruction. The aircraft will be at all the big U.S. shows this year, including the Sebring LSA Expo, Sun ‘n Fun and EAA AirVenture, where curious pilots can get an up-close look. “We also have dealers across the country, where you can get training,” he said. The company in Germany has been producing about 300 aircraft a year, for about 12 years. The gyroplanes sell for about $100,000.

Autogyros have no direct power to the rotor — they get thrust from a powered prop mounted on the rear of the aircraft, and the free-wheeling rotor provides lift. In the event of power loss, the rotor will continue to provide lift as long as the aircraft is moving forward, and landing distance requirements are very short. The Calidus is powered by a Rotax 912ULS, with an optional Rotax 914 turbo available. It burns less than 5 gallons of fuel per hour and can take off in 30 to 300 feet, according to the company website. Cruise speed is 82 to 95 knots, with Vne of 104 knots. It has a fuel capacity of about 20 gallons and an empty weight of 595 pounds. The autogyro’s main mission, according to Snyder, is “just to have a whole lot of fun.” AVweb’s editorial director Paul Bertorelli went flying with Snyder in a Calidus last year; you can view his video report here.

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