back to article DARPA whirly-wing jet gyrocraft hits noise snags

DARPA*, the Pentagon warboffinry outfit for whom the only field worthwhile is the left one, is having some problems with its "Heliplane" programme. The Heliplane is essentially a modified autogyro (aka gyrocopter or gyroplane), an aircraft that gets its lift from a rotor disc outwardly resembling that of a helicopter. However …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Joseph Helenihi

    Tip Jet noise cancel

    "We have an alternate design that... should have a dramatic effect on tip-jet noise,"

    Everyone in range of the sound put in earplugs?

    <No need to shove, I'm going, but I need my coat....>

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    That Fairey Rotodyne was so cool...

  3. Kevin Johnston

    Too simple?

    Am I being even more stupid than normal or would it not be possile to use a turbine to 'draft' the rotor around in the initial stages? This seems so obvious in these days of NOTAR helicoptors (no tail rotor for those behind the pack with acronyms) as it could use the exhaust gasses from the forward motion engines and greatly simplifies the main rotor construction.

    If no-one has thought of it then dibs on the patent...

  4. Dave

    those boffins had it good...

    Fantastic film.

    Aah the days before MBAs and outsourcing, when stuff got built quick and the future was shiny and bright, and the managers actually understood the stuff their minions built (or at least knew enough to keep out of the way). I doff my cap to the boffins , engineers and assorted technicians that made it happen. Am I alone in thinking that we'd struggle to build such a thing today ?

    Getting my (lab) coat already...

  5. Sam


    I built the Airfix model of the Rotodyne when I was a kid...I liked the idea of it.

  6. Sergiu Panaite
    Thumb Down

    Oh look...'s Eurostar-like times, tens of years before the Eurostar! And no sodding infrastructure to build and maintain!

    The human race is never going to learn, are we?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Where are youuuu?

  8. Mike Crawshaw

    The Plan..

    1. Get fat research grant from DARPA

    2. Build unsuccessful prototype for waaaaaaay less than grant value.

    3. ???

    4. Profit!!

    The coat with the rotors, please...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah the days...

    ..when future technology was exciting and inspiring.

  10. Sweep

    @ Kevin Johnston

    Juan de la Cierva (the inventor of the autogiro) did this long before you mate!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    commercial airports

    Why don't they just not use the tip jets at commercial airports and have a take off roll like a normal autogyro instead?

    I doubt there are the same noise requirements in military environments.

  12. Philip Lord


    I too was going to say I'd built the model - first time of seeing the film. Looked bloody good too. I believe it was cancelled by the then old Labour government under Wislon along with the TSR2 - which was another those 'what if we'd carried on with it' aircraft - who knows. Re-inventing wheels again!


  13. Timbo

    Err. prototype for Terminator 2

    I'd forgotten about the Rotodyne.

    But seeing the YouTube clip reminded me of the opening sequence to Terminator 2..... !!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    British Boffinry at it Best

    What do you get if you cross a bunch of clever people, hardly any cash and box that your not allowed to think inside of?

    Stuff the Yanks reinvent in 50 years later!

    Where's our government pork going then? I'd rather it was on this sort of stuff than ID Cards. Apparently we are in a knowledge economy now, uh oh i think that means we are in trouble unless the Chancellor splashes some cash on the mad project boffin brigade.

  15. Dazed and Confused

    Re: those boffins had it good...

    "Am I alone in thinking that we'd struggle to build such a thing today ?"

    In the immortal words of Douglas Adams

    OK wise guy, you tell us what colour it's supposed to be!

  16. Smallbrainfield
    Thumb Up


    That Rotodyne was pure Gerry Anderson.

    Stuff noise pollution. We need Rotodyne!

  17. Craig Vaughton

    A minor technicallity

    What you have to remember is the jet tips use cold gas. It's bad enough having all the plumbing from the engine to the rotor tips, but imagine having to lag it all. The rotors would be 4 foot thick.

    I seem to recall Fairy's had a small version of the Rotordyne called the Gyrodyne, which they managed to launch off the back of a 3 ton truck.

    Anyone wanting to be really depressed by all the nice toys our 50's & 60's boffins cooked up only for the govt to tell them to stop or we'd upset the Yanks should get hold of a book called Project Canceled.

  18. Jon G

    Rotodyne re-born

    The rotodyne was a fantastic aircraft - and the scientists at the time seemed to have resolved the noise issues.

    I say lets re-start this project before the Americans grab the market with one of their over-engineered solutions.

    If the Government could channel a tiny fraction of the money that it wastes on NHS bureaucracy to projects on this kind, it would really help boost British industry and encourage youngsters to study science.

  19. Graham Hawkins

    Ah happy days...

    as a kid standing in my back garden as a kid watching a Rotodyne flying over for the Farnborough Air Show...

    When the future looked bright and full of wonderful technology.

  20. Phil Hare
    Black Helicopters

    You would have thought...

    ...that they might have learnt something from the Osprey program.,8599,1665835,00.html

  21. Colin Jackson


    If the tip jets are just to get the rotor going to provide the initial lift, why don't they just use a giant rubber band?

  22. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Hedgehoppers Anonymous

    Surely STOL would require no powered Spinning Rotor for Lift .... only a Brake to stop it Spinning Freely ...... a la Little Nelly.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Old toys

    Interesting stuff, and yet more evidence that ideas are rarely unique - the only variations are whether the end product ever gets completed, delivered and works.

    Or people just repeat the previous concept unknowingly, and find the exact same flaws. Sometimes knowing some history can save money.

    Checking some of the old UK programs out is always interesting - Avro 730 & Bristol 188 looked like they could have been good stuff (like so many other things); somehow I couldn't see anything like that happening today, except maybe the same kind of destructive political input...

  24. Jeff

    High Disk Loading on V-22/Similar Concept from Another Company

    Regarding the statement in the article of the V-22 attaining VTOL and high speed, that's true, but the V-22 has very high disk loading, and so is limited in its gross weight. A large, single rotor would have much lower disk loading, and allow higher gross weights for the same power.

    For a small bit of self-promotion, I work for a company that has a similar concept. We are aware of the Fairey Rotodyne and the problem of noise with tip jets, so we are using a more conventional gearbox & driveshaft system.

  25. Dave Bell

    "exceptin' always Steam."

    Unleash British boffinry on the problem.

    A quick squirt of hydrogen peroxide should be enough to spin the rotors. Hot steam and oxygen: add a bit of kerosene and you have a satellite launcher.

    Morris dancers building a steam rocket: if you put that in a movie, nobody would believe it.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @British Boffinry at it Best

    Yeah! What were the yanks ever doing back then?

    Except going to the FUCKING MOON.

  27. Dave

    @@British Boffinry at it Best

    "Yeah! What were the yanks ever doing back then?

    Except going to the FUCKING MOON"

    I didn't think the original poster was being anti-american. Not all discussions have to centre on the USA- the discussion has been around great stuff we have done and what might have been. By understanding what has happened in the past we might learn how to do things better in the future e.g. not putting square windows in a pressurised cabin.

    Also some would say the Apollo programme's success owes a great deal to Wernher Von Braun and the other german rocketeers who moved to the United States after the war (and the bucketloads of cash) so maybe not the best example of American genius (of which there are plenty - the Liberty ships, the airframe of the P-51, ILM etc ).

  28. Jim Lewis

    Space race

    nor were we, (the Brits), enagaged in the Space race, that diverted God knows how much money away from more moundane things like a national health service, and into demonstrating that the yanks were as capable, (if significantly later), than the Soviets.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like