Jul 222012
MT-03 autogyro side view

There was a great weather today, perfect for a flight with an autogyro and a wonderful light for nice photos.

I took off with Pascal from Augsburg airport in Bavaria. Air traffic was present, but not saturated, mainly composed of  pilot students.

The autogyro MT-03 is a small aircraft manufactured in northern Germany. The pilot sits in the front with the instruments panel. The passenger has the possibility to use a flight rudder and pedals, which are mechanically linked to the pilot controls.

MT-03 autogyro side view

MT-03 autogyro side view

Starting is easy: the Rotax engine is ignited and the propeller starts to rotate. Immediately after, the aircraft is ready to proceed to the taxiway.

Once on the runway, the pilot can provide some torque from the engine to the main rotor. Not as for a helicopter, the main rotor rotation is generated by the air flow. You only need to launch the rotation, which is then sustained by the relative air speed. It actually replaces wings in a very efficient way.
Currently, the normal RPM number does not allow vertical take-off. You need a forward movement on a few meters in order to take altitude. However, the future aircraft should be able to always start vertically, the pilot said.

Cruise flight is approximately 57 kts. How does it feel?

It is not faster than a car. Flying with no roof is just as much fun as driving a convertible. There is an additional benefit though: you are too high to meet flies and midges. You could fly with no helmet without the risk of getting the “biker smile”.

Vibrations level is quite high but acceptable. It may become really unpleasant after a few flight hours, but for a 20 minutes flight, it is far from unbearable.

What about an engine failure?

Autogyros can glide well enough to land safely in case of an engine failure. “Let’s try this!”, he said.

Perhaps you can hear the propeller rotating less fast on the video. Of course it was windy and I didn’t have a real microphone with my camera. Nevertheless, you will barely notice anything. The descent rate increased a little bit, but stood around only a few feet/sec.
In case of incident, you still have time to quietly choose your emergency landing surface, execute the correct maneuver to align you aircraft, and you land.

if we ever had to make an emergency landing…


At this moment, the pilot told me that he would have gone to the road below. We were at an altitude of approx. 1500 ft, which left us a 100% angle gliding slope.

We didn’t continue the “emergency demo” for too long in order to avoid scaring the people of the farm below…

Bavaria from the sky

You can now enjoy some few pictures taken during the flight.

Jul 162012

Since MD Helicopters and Agusta Westland announced their intentions to take part to the competition, we may have a look at the actors.
Who are they? Mainly major players of the world market, plus one outsider.

Let’s begin with the outsider: AVX.
The concept is seducing, but it was never flown. It actually reminds me more of the Eurocopter X3 which was developped from the scratch and reused a heavily modified cabin of EC155.
The video below shows  the principle. I don’t believe in it, because you need more than a simple exchange of  few parts to fly this aircraft. Anyway, the concept is interesting. It is a mix between the Eurocopter X3 market target and the Sikorsky X2 architecture.

OH-58D/AVX from AVX Aircraft Company on Vimeo.


Agusta Westland shows up with the AW139.

This brand new helicopter (first flight 2001) proved its performance on the market and is hugely used in service at sea for oil and gas, as well as for maritime rescue.


Bell Helicopter bets on a new variant of the well known Kiowa: the OH-58F.

Nevertheless, despite a big effort on the redesign of the helicopter, with a new tail rotor gear box and a new engine, meeting the 6000 ft / 95°F requirements may no be sufficient. We would like to see more of the avionics and the mission capability.


Eurocopter makes a big deal of the militarization of the EC145 as the AAS-72X.

UH-72A is basically a civil helicopter with green paint and dedicated radios.  It is still to be defined if the real competitor will be the legacy EC145 or the new EC145 T2 with a fenestron.
No EC645 (the military version of EC145) has been in service in the world yet. However, the company acquired great experience from the EC635 program delivered to Iraq.

Key arguments playing for the EC145 / AAS-72X: the heavy 20mm cannon, guided rockets and the modern avionics.


MD Helicopters competes with the MD540F.

It’s a famous aircraft all over the world, having proven its abilities on most of theatres.
This time, not only 5, but 6 composite rotor blades. A new avionics package and all the required weapons, including Lockheed Martin’s guided rockets.

Sikorsky will present the S-97 Raider… someday.

Based on the X2 concept, the architecture may differ only slightly from what has already been flown. The contra-rotating rotors and the push-propeller leave great room for the installation of side weapons.
Maybe there will even be some room for passengers inside the cabin.

Currently, nothing to see, except the monthly updates.


Which aircraft have my preference?

I’d bet on 3 of them:

The MD540F is a small, agile and good looking helicopter. The concept proved its efficiency throughout the years, even able to carry unexpected passengers on the skids.

The Sikorsky X2 is a challenging concept with futuristic configuration and a high speed target. If the program was ready on time, it may be a huge success.

The Eurocopter AAS-72X has proved its performance in use among the US forces. It’s a very modern helicopter, reliable and efficient.