On May 24, during the course of his world tour, American pilot Mathew Hayduk will make a pit-stop at Ahmedabad, on his way back to Italy. Apart from refuelling his tank, Hayduk will also be displaying the machine he’s flown the 18,000 kms in — a gyrocopter.
A hybrid between helicopters and gliders, gyrocopters are set to make their debut in India in the next couple of months. This smaller, lighter and quieter version of the chopper will perhaps be the answer to the country’s traffic problems. And it doesn’t cost a bomb. Priced Rs 30 lakh onward, it is about the same as a luxury car.
Rishabh Mehta, managing director of Sector 6, the company that’s bringing gyrocopters to India believes that the flying machine has great business prospects. “Several government agencies have shown interest in them, especially for coastal-line surveillance,” he says. “And while individuals can also buy them, it could take upto a year for licensing and security clearance since the government has tightened aviation rules post 26/11.”
So what makes a gyrocopter so exciting? For starters, they can fly very low, only a few metres above the ground at a very low speed, about 30 kmph unlike a helicopter which cannot fly low and slow at the same time. Gyrocopters are also much less expensive and need very little landing space unlike a glider.
However, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has decided to formulate a separate category for gyrocopters in India. “We don’t want them to operate in a city with a high population, or around a VIP or defence area,” says a DGCA official.