The #1 Issue with gyroplane safety is TRAINING.
Recommended Flight Instructors can be found on this web page: https://www.pra.org
Lack of proper training is the number one killer of gyroplane pilots. There might be many reasons for this.
Among them are the quick build times of gyroplanes (40-80hrs vrs 400-600hrs for fixed wing) cause gyros to attract the lions share of impatient and reckless pilots.
Another possible cause is that there are few trainers in some regions of the country. What ever the cause is it is no excuse for not getting proper training in gyroplane piloting.
Even if you have thousands of hours of flight time in every other form of aircraft you still need gyroplane specific training even just to taxi the craft.
Used Gyroplanes and Construction Methods.
If you have purchased or plan to purchase a used gyroplane or gyroplane kit please contact your local PRA Chapter for help and advise about the condition and safety of the gyroplane.
Local PRA chapters can be found here: https://www.pra.org
If no chapter is local to you then post questions about or research your gyro in one of the internet rotorcraft forums.
Links to the forums can be found here: https://prachapter34.com/toppage1.htm
Constructions methods and components are beyond the scope of this safety page. It is recommended that you contact the manufacturer, PRA Chapter or EAA Chapter for help with the construction and evaluation of specific components.
Is your gyroplane safe?
To determine the safety of your gyroplane here are some general guidelines:
1. Does you gyroplane have a horizontal stabilizer?
If your answer is: Yes: This is a good sign, though not conclusive, that your gyroplane
will have at least generally stable characteristics.
Move on to question 2.
No: Stop. Do not fly this gyroplane. Gyroplanes without horizontal stabilizers are pitch unstable.
This condition is worsened if your gyroplane:
* is not Center Line Thrust (CLT),
* has a high horsepower engine,
* has a redrive, or large prop.
* a full or partial enclosure.
* has a side by side configuration
* or has other unstablizing characteristics.
The following is from: https://gyroplanestability.com/safety.html
A good page on stability can be found here: https://www.aircraftdesigns.com/gyro2.html
Another here: https://www.asra.org.au/L_Stability.htm
2. Is your horizontal stabilizer adequate?
If you are using the manufacture's recommended horizontal stabilizer then you are most probably ok.
The purpose of the Hstab is to provide pitch dampening and increase pitch stability.
If you are a scratch builder or designer you should research the proper size and placement for your Hstab.
A large Hstab is good, an Hstab in the propwash is good, an Hstab far back from CG is good.
3. Does your gyroplane have an offset thrust line?
It is very important to know if your gyroplane has a High Thrust Line (HTL) or is Center Line Thrust (CLT)
A high thrust line gyro has the propeller's thrust line passing through or very near the Center of Gravity.
Above is a CLT 'Center Line Thrust' gyroplane. Note how you can draw
an imaginary line from the prop through the pilot's bellybutton.
This is the older style pusher gyroplane with a High Thrust Line (HTL). Note how you can
draw an imaginary line through the prop and it is several inches higher than where the
pilots bellybutton would be.
Although the 'bellybutton' line is not always conclusive, in general it is a good indicator.
If you are unsure if your gyroplane is HTL or CLT contact your manufacturer.
Pros and Cons or CLT and HTL:
CLT Cons: There are no known performance drawbacks to the CLT design.
CLT is found chiefly on newer gyroplanes, it may be more difficult
to find a used CLT gyroplane.
Pros: CLT gyroplanes are safer for several reasons.
CLT gyroplanes virtually cannot PPO (Power Push Over) a leading
cause of gyroplane fatalities.
CLT gyroplanes can handle gusty and windy conditions better.
CLT gyroplanes are easier to fly and require less pilot input.
The CLT design is generally more efficient.
CLT gyroplanes with a Hstab are very pitch stable with reduces PIO greatly.
CLT gyroplanes may have a higher resale value.
The vast majority of new gyroplane designs are CLT
HTL Cons: HTL gyroplanes are likely less pitch stable than CLT gyros.
HTL gyroplanes can PPO, a leading cause of gyroplane fatalities.
HTL gyroplanes require more pilot input.
Generally, HTL gyroplanes have to reduce speed when flying in
windy or gusty conditions.
Full enclosures, high horse power engines and side by side seating make
HTL gyros even more unstable.
HTL gyros can be more difficult to learn to fly.
Pros: Not all HTL gyroplanes are pitch unstable. For example the Magni
gyroplane is considered highly stable.
HTL gyros tend to cost less on the used market.
Many HTL gyros can be cheaply converted to CLT
A large effective horizontal stabilizer can largely offset many of the
pitch stability problems that occur on HTL machines.
Many gyroplanes that look like HTL may actually be
NCLT ( Near Center Line Thrust ) which means they will have most
of the benefits of CLT.
A low horsepower HTL gyroplane such as an ultralight gyroplane
will have fewer of the problems associated with HTL and be much
less likely to PPO.
Please Note: High Thrust Line gyroplanes if well made and pitch stable are from a physics perspective nearly the safest form of aircraft, second only to CLT gyroplanes and tractor autogyros. If you have a well made, stable HTL gyroplane you can expect to enjoy one of the safest, most amazing forms of flight there is. Please remember that even the safest aircraft is no match for an unsafe or untrained pilot.
4. Does you gyroplane have any required safety upgrades?
You should contact your manufacturer to see if you are in need of any safety upgrades. If you can not contact your manufacturer check with other gyro pilots on the internet forums.
Some known issues:
Old Air Command gyroplanes (HTL) have several safety upgrades that are required.
Please contact Air Command before flying your classic Air Command Gyroplane.
Original Air Command gyros can be fixed at very low cost thanks to the progressive folks at Air Command.
Known issues: Pump control stick, Non-redundant mast, Horizontal Stabilizer.
All Air Commands can be upgraded to CLT
RAF gyroplanes require a horizontal stabilizer to be pitch stable.
Warning: the manufacturer may not inform you about this.
Many control rod systems and other parts must be upgraded on older RAFs.
Inquire at www.rotaryforum.com in the RAF section for details.
Safety practices and recommendations
Always post flight
Don't use fuel older than 2-3 weeks
Always run fuel through a water separator such as a "Mr. Funnel"
Remember gyroplanes can be hard to see by pilots used to looking for fixed wing aircraft.
Always tie down the rotorblades when parking, even if for just a short time.
Completely warm up engine before flying
Avoid the flow of fixed wing traffic.
Always avoid and search for power lines. Power lines are a major cause of accidents for all rotorcraft ( helicopters and gyros)
Never land in a field or grass strip you have not personally inspected from the ground first.
Always, use care when running the gyro on the ground. Always have someone prepared to shut the engine off.
Avoid all people on the ground. Often they cannot see your rotors even if they are spinning slowly.
Use a rotorbrake when taxiing as much as possible.
Use a radio and announce your position in the pattern and in high traffic zones.
Pusher gyros like all pusher prop aircraft must have extra attention paid to safety wiring and securing any object that can come loose.
Be sure all pilots and passengers remove any loose articles, clothing, shoes and pocket contents that might blow off in flight.
Always wear eye protection and a helmet.
"Rotors... The only way to fly"