Government seeks to set ground rules for Gyroplanes

Seven conditions have been spelt out by the government in its draft policy on gyroplanes after years of consultations between the ministries of home and civil aviation.

NEW DELHI: It’s a bird… It’s a chopper…. It’s a plane... It’s a gyroplane.

Plane spotters in India may soon have something to look up to. Literally so, with the government coming out with a draft policy to regulate the operations of gyroplanes, or aircraft that combine the features of an aeroplane and a helicopter and are popular among the rich and famous in Europe and the United States. In India, though, gyroplanes are set to debut as a mode of personal transport rather than an air taxi.

Gyrox Aviation, the Gurgaon based company which plans to assemble gyroplanes in India from original equipment sourced from Poland’s Celier Aviation, is also eyeing paramilitary forces, state police forces and local government officials for selling the nearly Rs 1.77 crore machines for surveillance along the border and other areas in the country.

“Corporates and high-end individuals can use a gyroplane as it can travel up to 600 km on a single tankful of petrol,” Gyrox Aviation founder Colonel (retd) RP Suhag told ET.

Seven conditions have been spelt out by the government in its draft policy on gyroplanes released on Friday after years of consultations between the ministries of home and civil aviation.

Many Restrictions
For instance, these two-seater planes, which are designed like helicopters, will not be allowed to fly at night, carry a passenger or property for compensation or hire, fly higher than 2,000 feet above ground level or enter controlled airspace without a valid radio telephony operator licence. Pilots will need a licence and a certificate of airworthiness. However, gyroplanes will not be allowed to operate when flight or surface visibility falls below 5,000 metres.

The government has sought public comments on the draft policy, which will take final shape next month.

Col Suhag said his company had made presentations to the Border Security Force and the Central Reserve Police Force suggesting the machines be used for patrolling the borders and for surveillance in areas affected by Left-wing extremism. “There is tremendous use of this machine in India,” he said. Gyroplanes made their debut in Europe and are use in China, the US and Canada. The aircraft is essentially a rotorcraft whose rotors are not engine-driven, except for starting.

It is made to rotate by action of the air when the rotorcraft is moving and its propellers are independent of the rotor system, making it different from a helicopter. It needs a runway to take off and land, albeit much shorter than that for a plane.

“A gyroplane weighs just 600 kg and is crash-safe as it glides to safety and does not drop from the air like a chopper in case of engine failure. A chopper is also too big for reconnaissance purpose,” Col Suhag said. “A gyroplane can be used for highway patrolling and urban policing and many state police forces have shown interest. Government officials can also use it to survey a district in quick time to check on various development works.”

Some aviation experts have, however, said that gyroplanes are exorbitantly priced for India since a second-hand chopper costs less. “At .`1.5 crore plus goods and services tax, it would cost Rs 1.77 crore. I do not think it fits into the aviation sector in any way. At most, it is a leisure machine. Yes, if it is available at Rs 60 lakh or so, there could be takers,” said Capt Vibhuti Singh, founder of Jaipur-based Microlight Aviation.

Poland-based Raphael Celier conceived the new-age gyroplanes in 2006 and his company Celier Aviation has been supplying these machines across the world.




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