Skyworks Aeronautics Corp.
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Skyworks Aeronautics is the world leader in the science and technology of gyronautics, focusing on the design and development of crewed and uncrewed gyroplanes and gyrocopters with gas-powered, hybrid-electric and fully electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) options depending upon the aircraft. The company's goals are to make air travel safer, more cost-efficient and effective. The company began in 1986 as Groen Brothers Aviation and then became Groen Aeronautics Corporation. On April 24, 2017, Groen Aeronautics became Skyworks Global which eventually lead to its current company name, Skyworks Aeronautics.
The VertiJet is a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) high speed and long range gyrodyne (see below for an autogyro related terms definition list). The VertiJet is an adaption of a combination of the British Rotodyne and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA-USA) Skyworks Heliplane. The Heliplane was a project funded by the DARPA and the VertiJet will be aimed at the civilian business jet market.
Skyworks Aeronautics’ VertiJet has both fixed wings and a main rotorblade. The rotorblades can either be unpowered and autorototate for a sustained lift of the aircraft during forward flight and landing. Or the rotorblades can be powered using tipjets for short periods of time and allow the aircraft to take off vertically like a helicopter. Like the Heliplane, the VertiJet will have a projected top speed of 400 mph (644 km/h), a range of 1,000 nm (1,800 km), carry a 1,000 lb (454 kg) payload, hold 4-6 passengers and one (1) pilot.
The autorotating rotor eliminates heavy, expensive, complicated helicopter parts such as the transmission and rotorblade linkages and which also reduces purchasing and maintenance costs. If the engines fail during mid-flight, the autorotating main rotorblades allows the aircraft to vertically descend for a safe landing. The vehicle uses two Williams gas-turbine engines or can possibly have an option for a hybrid-electric power source.
What we’re going to solve is two-thirds of the world’s aviation requirements. No one has paid attention to the two-thirds of the world with no infrastructure, no educated workforce — gyrocraft are built for that. It’s extraordinarily broad what this aircraft can do. People need to stop comparing gyrocraft to the helicopter. The gyroplane is an airplane that doesn’t need a runway. The market is not to push helicopters out.
—Skyworks Aeronautics' Executive Committee Director, Retired US Air Force Brig. Gen. John Michel (paraphrased)
"The rotor is only providing lift, not propulsion. With a helicopter, you’re spinning the rotor with a transmission and anti-torque mechanisms which consume a lot of power. In a helicopter, you’re losing [as much as] 20 to 30% of your power to counter torque," says Don Woodbury, Skyworks Aeronautics' Chief Technology Advisor. Slow-turning gyrocopter rotors are more efficient than constantly powered helicopter rotorblades in cruising flight. According to Woodbury, drag rises proportional to the square of rotor speed and the rotor on the gyroplane typically turns only two-thirds as fast as that on a helicopter.
The booming sport gyroplane community in the 1980s nevertheless suffered a high accident rate, much of it attributed to poor design. According to Dave Groen, “There actually was very little true understanding of the science behind sustained autorotative flight.” Analyses showed the worst design errors in accident prone gyrocraft of other manufacturers were in the misplacement of rotor and propeller thrust vectors as related to aircraft center of gravity. Groen designed the hands-off stable SparrowHawk to fix the safety issues of kit gyroplanes.
Emergency autorotation performance improved dramatically by being able to change collective pitch during descent. Collective pitch control could enhance gyroplane safety, especially in less than 1G maneuvers. Collective pitch also enables gyroplanes to spin-up on the ground at flat pitch, store energy in the rotor, and take off vertically with rapid collective input as the aircraft accelerates. In addition, it provides a means to optimize rotor speed for greater cruise efficiency.
Gyroplane Benefits and Features:
- A less complex aircraft which translates to lower purchasing cost, lower operating cost, lower maintenance cost, lower weight of aircraft, increases aircraft availability, increases efficiency, increases range and increases endurance (hours in the air)
- No runway needed
- Piloting is simplified
- It is a highly stable aircraft
- Inherent safety, it cannot stall and can land safely in the event of no power
The VertiJet can take off and land like a fixed-wing aircraft with an unpowered rotor, like a helicopter with the main rotor powered by tipjets, or use the wings and the powered main rotorblade at the same time. Skyworks sees the VertiJet being used by passengers who typically would purchase a business jet but want an aircraft that costs less to purchase, less to maintain but with the added feature of VTOL flight. Whether or not this is the final aircraft design, remains to be seen.
- Type of aircraft: Gyrodyne with turbine and hybrid-electric options.
- Pilot: 1
- Capacity: 4-6 passengers
- Cruise speed: 400 mph (644 km/h)
- Range: 1,000 miles (1,609 km)
- Payload: 1,000 lb (454 kg)
- Power source: 2 Williams gas-turbine engines (possible hybrid-electric power source in the future)
- Forward flight: Turbine engines (possibly electric fans in the future)
- Rotor: Unpowered slow-turning autorotating rotor for lift
- Wing: Low tapered wing
- Tail: Twin tail boom mounted on the wings
- Landing gear: Retractable
- Safety features: If a power failure occurs, can land safety to the ground. It’s a less complex than a helicopter which reduces the likelihood of mechanical failures.
- Autogiro: The original term, trademarked and licensed by Juan de la Cierva (Spain), for an aircraft using an autorotating rotor for lift plus one or more propellers for thrust.
- Autogyro: The general term for a VTOL autorotating aircraft using an unpowered rotor for lift and one or more propellers for forward flight and one that was not a licensed Cierva Autogiro. The US FAA recognizes the name “gyroplane” instead.
- Gyrocopter: This term was trademarked by Igor Bensen and the Bensen Aircraft Corp. for its gyroplanes.
- Gyroglider: A Bensen trademarked name for its towed autorotating gyroplanes.
- Gyrocraft: A general term for all autorotating aircraft.
- Gyrodyne: An autogyro that is capable of VTOL and/or hovering, as well as extended forward flight in autorotation (i.e. a powered gyroplane).
- Gyronautics: A term coined by Skyworks Global for “the science of sustained autorotative flight”
- Gyroplane: A general term for an aircraft that cruises in autorotative flight (aka an “autogyro”).
- Heliplane: A US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program from 2005 to 2009 for a high-speed tip-jet rotor gyrodyne.
- Skyworks Aeronautics website
- Skyworks Aeronautics Facebook
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- Skyworks Aeronautics LinkedIn
- Skyworks Aeronautics Wikipedia
- GBA-DARPA Heliplane Wikipedia
- Autogyro Wikipedia
- Article: One Step Beyond, Rotor & Wing, Feb. 2007
- Article: Groen Aeronautics Re-Branded As Skyworks Global, PR Newswire, Apr. 24, 2017
- Radio Interview: Retired Brig. General John E. Michel, Director Skyworks Global, National Public Radio, Dec. 4, 2017
- Article: Gyronautics: Airplanes Without Runways, Skyworks, Jun. 5, 2018
- Article: Advantageous Autorotation, Vertiflite, Jul./Aug. 2018
- Article: Transforming Tennis Courts into Airports: How Skyworks Global’s VertiJet™ is Poised to Transform Private Business Travel, Medium.com, Feb. 1, 2019
- Article: GYROPLANES: From Novelty to Mainstream?, Vertiflite, Mar./Apr. 2019
- Article: Skyworks Global Announces Collaboration with Scaled Composites to Develop the VertiJet™ Demonstrator, EIN Presswire, Jul. 8, 2019
- Article: Article: Skyworks Global collaborates with Scaled Composites to develop VertiJet demonstrator, Vertical Magazine, Jul. 9, 2019
- Article: Update: Skyworks Global, Scaled Composites bank on VertiJet’s tip-jet design, Janes, Jul. 12, 2019
- Article: Skyworks to offer U.S. Army new combat gyrodyne aircraft, Defense Blog, Jul. 14, 2019
- Article: Old Gyrocopters Could Be the Funky Flying Cars of the Future, Wired, Aug. 12, 2019
- Article: The Fairey Rotodyne, the vertical takeoff and landing airliner time forgot, Ars Technica, Feb. 15, 2020
- Article: Skyworks Aeronautics Announces $100 Million Investment Commitment from GEM as Company Seeks to Go Public in Coming Months, Business Wire, Feb. 5, 2021
- Article: Skyworks Aeronautics plans to resurrect gyrodynes for the eVTOL age, New Atlas, Feb. 8, 2021
- Article: An Interview With John Michel, Executive Director At Skyworks Aeronautics, Tech Company News, Feb. 12, 2021
- Article: Skyworks Aeronautics: Something Old, Something New, Vertiflite, Jan/Feb 2022