SALT LAKE CITY, UT --- Groen Brothers Aviation, Inc. (GBA) announced today that the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has selected a GBA-led team to design a proof of concept high speed, long range, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft designed for use in Combat Search and Rescue roles.
Phase one of this potentially multi-year, $40 million four phase program begins with a fifteen month, $6.4 million award to develop the preliminary design and perform key technology demonstrations.
This modern rotorcraft, named by DARPA as the "Heliplane," is designed to exploit GBA's gyrodyne technology, offering the VTOL capability of a helicopter, the fast forward flight of an airplane, and the safety, simplicity and reliability of a GBA gyroplane. This aircraft type could be the next generation rotor wing aircraft, meeting economy and performance goals not considered achievable by any other type of VTOL aircraft.
DARPA is the central research and development organization for the US Department of Defense (DoD). It manages and directs select basic and applied research for DoD, emphasizing technology development projects where payoff is high and where success may provide dramatic advances in the capabilities of our combat forces.
"DARPA is a vastly diverse and capable organization charged with developing the world's most advanced science in military technologies of every kind," said David Groen, President and CEO of Groen Brothers Aviation. "The DARPA team is an amazing collection of scientists, engineers, and management and administrative cadre, the likes of which have no equal. We are most impressed with their dedication and are delighted with having been selected."
"Our team," said Jay Groen, GBA's Chairman of the Board, "includes The Georgia Institute of Technology, Adam Aircraft Industries, Williams International, and a highly renowned team of aerospace consultants." Georgia Tech is a top U.S. graduate engineering research university, with premier aerospace engineering programs and its world famous rotary wing technology program. Adam Aircraft is highly respected for its innovative use of modern composite materials, engineering quality, and rapid prototyping processes that has allowed Adam to bring to market two new high-performance aircraft: the six passenger "center-line-twin" A500 and the A700 personal jet. Williams International has developed more than 40 different small gas turbine engine systems for both military and commercial air vehicles, including the Adam A700 and many other modern "biz-jets."
The GBA contract with DARPA is based upon the "gyrodyne" concept long espoused by Groen Brothers Aviation and extensively researched by Georgia Tech. A gyrodyne is similar in appearance to a winged helicopter, and like a helicopter is capable of hovering and vertical takeoff and landing. Unlike a helicopter, however, a gyrodyne's rotor is driven by rotor blade reaction drives and are powered only during hover, takeoff and landing. During forward flight, like a gyroplane, the rotor is not powered, with forward thrust being provided by engines typical of an airplane. This use of reaction drives for rotor power and main engines for forward thrust eliminates the need for much of the cost, weight, and complexity found in helicopters, while permitting much higher forward speeds.
Developing gyroplane technology since 1986, GBA is recognized as the world's leading authority on autorotative flight. The company has developed the Rolls-Royce gas turbine engine powered Hawk 4, the world's first commercially viable modern gyroplane -- the first "autogiro" to utilize a jet engine. The Hawk 4 Gyroplane was used extensively for security aerial patrol missions during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. The gyroplane's inherently simple design offers a safe and affordable alternative to helicopters and airplanes for many applications, including aerial observation roles in both government and private applications, agricultural aerial application, tour guide flights, and cargo/passenger transport.