Wagtail Aviation to fly Trooper gyrocopter later this month

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Local company Wagtail Aviation plans to fly its new Trooper rapid deployment gyrocopter towards the end of this month after unveiling it at the Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition in September.

The Trooper is powered by a 300 hp Subaru engine and fitted with rugged landing gear featuring oversized offroad tyres for remote/bush operations. The open aircraft has a pilot up front and two outward facing seats behind for the rapid deployment of personnel such as game rangers, who can disembark from the aircraft in under two seconds.

The Trooper is aimed at military and paramilitary customers such as rangers. Wagtail’s aircraft have flown more than 10 000 commercial hours and more than 800 hours on anti-poaching patrols and the company works with South African National Parks (SANParks) and other operators in anti-poaching and related activities. For instance, Wagtail has been flying anti-poaching patrols in Port Elizabeth and surrounding the Kruger National Park. Johan T von Ludwig, Wagtail Aviation Director, said that no animals have been lost while the company’s aircraft have been on patrol – he added that their noise, appearance and sheer size is a deterrent to poachers.

Also part of the Trooper family are the Trojan and Light Delivery Gyro (LDG), which were also promoted at AAD 2014. The Trojan is built for long distance patrols and surveying while the LDG can carry up to 300 kg of cargo. Loads include a pilot and two passengers or a litter or two droppable 150 kg cargo boxes. All three aircraft in the family have a maximum all-up weight of 790 kg and a payload of approximately 400 kg. Various engine and rotor blade options are available depending on the performance required – Subaru engines ranging between 180 and 300 hp are available.

Wagtail Aviation said it is the only company in the world currently producing heavy gyros of around 800 kg and the only company offering these rotorcraft for such specialised missions as aerial delivery and rapid deployment. Von Ludwig said that many African and Middle Eastern militaries have been curious about Wagtail’s capabilities and that the company received tremendous interest at AAD.