Q. How safe is it?
A. Any vehicle capable of three-dimensional movement is a potentially dangerous vehicle. However, with proper training, a gyroplane is one of the safest aviation vehicles since it is in autorotation 100% of the time during flight. If forward thrust is lost, such as with an engine out, the rotorcraft naturally descends at a slow rate of speed under full control by the pilot, while they scan for a safe location to land. While autorotation is an exclusive advantage to a gyroplane, it does not correct a catastrophic failure of the rotorcraft or loss of control by the pilot. Gyroplanes are as safe as the pilots who fly them.
Q. What happens if the engine quits?
A. Your rotor blades will keep turning. Maintain air speed and simply put the nose down slightly and glide to a landing.
Q. How much gas does it use?
A. At the cruise speed of 45 mph, the Commander Elite 447 will use 3 gallons of fuel in one hour giving you a range of approximately 90 miles. Larger engines use more fuel.
Q. Do you suggest I go for an introductory flight?
A. Yes. Make arrangements to take an introductory flight in an Air Command gyroplane and you'll convince yourself that it is a fun flying and stable gyro.
Q. Do I need to register my gyroplane with the FAA?
A. The Commander Elite 447 is a legal ultralight requiring no licensing for either the gyroplane or pilot. Use of the Rotax 503 or 582 engines or Hirth 2704 and 2706 engines legally put the Commander Elite in the Experimental-Amateur Built Category, requiring Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) registration, "N" numbers and an FAA Airworthiness certificate. registration is the "N" number and an Airworthiness certificate is issued by the FAA or a Designated Airworthiness Representative (DAR).
Q. Can I do repairs myself?
A. Yes. It is legal to do your own repairs. When building your gyro we suggest applying for your FAA Repairman Certificate. In addition, we suggest you seek expert assistance in engine repairs unless you are experienced in this.
Q. How can I transport my Commander? Storage?
A. Air Command gyroplanes can be easily transported on a modified boat trailer or other suitable, safe trailer. They can be stored in a garage or hangar.
Q. Can I buy one part at a time?
A. No, unless you are buying replacement parts. Sub-assembly kits are available; contact us for details and pricing.
Q. What instruments do I need?
A. As the builder you determine the need for flight and engine instrumentation. There are no FAA requirements for Experimental-Amateur Built certified Day - VFR (visual flight rule) aircraft regarding instruments. However, suggested instrumentation includes: air speed indicator, altimeter, magnetic compass, engine temperature gauge, fuel level indicator and tachometer. A rotor rpm gauge (rotor tach) is also suggested.
Q. Can I takeoff and land vertically?
A. No. Unlike a helicopter, no Air Command gyroplane can do this.
Q. Can I hover?
A. Yes and no. A typical Air Command gyroplane can "hover" in a 15 mph wind, meaning that it can fly straight and level at 15 mph and appear motionless from the ground. Most pilots who "hover" like to do it at altitudes of several hundred feet.
Q. Can I land vertically?
A. Yes and no. All Air Command gyroplanes have the capability to descend almost vertically, though they "flare" for the landing instead of continuing the vertical descent all the way to the ground. However, landings are possible with no landing roll.
Q. How high can I fly this?
A. The typical service ceiling on Air Command gyroplanes is 10,000 feet (3000 meters). Most pilots choose to fly between 500 feet and 3,000 feet (150 to 900 meters) because they like the sensation of seeing the ground flow underneath them.
Q. Can I use this for spraying crops?
A. Yes, with the 65 to 120 hp engines the Commander can be adapted for agricultural use.
Q. How fast will my gyroplane go?
A. The most comfortable cruise speed is between 45 and 70 mph (72 to 113 kmh). Top speeds vary from 63 mph (101 kph) for the Commander 447 to over 100 mph (161 kph) for the Commander Elite Tandem.
Q. Why is the seat so high off the ground?
A. The seat is raised so the thrust line goes through the vertical center of gravity, which makes the Elite gyroplane extremely stable in the air. The thrust line can be visualized as an imaginary line running horizontally through the center of the propeller. The vertical center of gravity is the point around which the gyroplane would rotate with equal weight on each side.
Q. What is the glide ratio?
A. The glide ratio is typically 4 to 1. This means that with power off, an Air Command gyroplane can glide 4,000 feet or meters horizontally for every 1,000 feet or meters it descends.
Q. How long a runway do I need?
A. This depends on a lot of variables, but with a prerotator some single-place Air Command gyroplanes can takeoff in as little as 75 to 200 feet (25 to 60 meters) under standard conditions. Outside temperature, humidity, type of runway surface, wind direction, weight in the gyroplane, and the pilot's experience will affect the amount of takeoff roll needed.
Q. What about changing the wheels? Rotor blades?
A. For safety reasons, we do not recommend that you change anything on Air Command gyroplanes, for the simple reason that they were designed the way they are because it works. Any changes made, no matter how simple, could cause potentially dangerous situations for the pilot and observers. We recommend you use only authorized Air Command parts.
Q. Can I use an Air Command gyroplane as a glider?
A. No, they were not designed to be towed.
Q. What is the aircraft's life expectancy?
A. As long as any metal aircraft if stored under good conditions.
Q. Does the Air Command gyroplane have floats or skies as an option?
A. No. We do not recommend float or ski operations.
Q. Can I teach myself to fly?
A. No. We require our customers to agree to get flight instruction and training from a qualified, certified gyroplane instructor that is company approved before we sell them a production kit. Any aircraft is potentially dangerous, so it is essential to get experienced help in learning to fly. Without flight training an accident is almost a certainty.
Q. I am an experienced fixed wing/helicopter pilot. Do I need lessons?
A. Yes. The gyroplane is a completely different type of aircraft and requires vetted used to, but with some prior flight experience you should be flying sooner than trainees with no experience in an aircraft.
Q. Where can I get flying lessons?
A. Refer to the flight training page of the website.
Q. How many hours between engine overalls?
A. 400 to 600 hours with proper engine maintenance.
Q. Is it available with electric start?
A. Yes. All our gyroplanes can be fitted with the electric start option.
Q. I am a heavy/light pilot. Do I have to change anything to fly?
A. Any weight from 120 to 250 pounds can be flown on the Commander Elite as it comes. The Basic Commander with Rotax 447 engine, a gyroplane sold during the 1980's and very popular yet today, is limited to a maximum pilot weight of 175 pounds.
Q. What kind of parachute is needed?
A. None. Air Command gyroplanes are built strong enough that if you stay in their realm of operation, they will not fail. Since they fly in autorotation, their rotating blades will be your parachute if the engine quits. As an option, Air Command gyros can be fitted with a Gyro Recovery System, a ballistic parachute system that will work at altitudes of 500 feet or greater in an emergency situation that stops the rotor blades from rotating.
Q. Are plans available?
A. No, we feel plans would entice customers to build Air Command gyroplanes out of materials unsuitable for aircraft use, as history has proven with other gyroplanes.
Q. What is the rotor diameter on the Commander?
A. The rotary wing "span" is judged differently than for fixed wing. The blade diameter is 23 feet, and the disc area is 416 sq. ft. on the Commander Elite. On the 2-seat models, blade diameter can be as much as 31 feet, with 755 sq. ft. disc area...80 percent more blade area from 8 more feet of rotate blade!
Q. Can I add things like a larger engine later on?
A. Yes. Any upgrade or option that Air Command offers will fit the basic Commander airframe. The Elite upgrade kit fits any single-place Air Command gyroplane.
Q. Can I change an older Air Command gyroplane into an Elite model?
A. Yes. Air Command offers an upgrade kit that will convert any Air Command single-place gyroplane into the Air Command Elite center-line thrust configuration. This upgrade puts all the performance perks of a new Elite on your existing older model Air Command gyroplane. Please > contact us for further details.
> Contact us with any additional questions or if you did not find the information you were looking for. We'll be glad to assist you further.