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Friday, 15 November, 2002, 15:34 GMT
Minicopter 'to revolutionise travel'
Microcopter
Microcopters like these could take the place of cars
Commuters looking for a taste of the high life could be in luck - if plans to revolutionise the mincopter take off.

Aviation specialist Peter Bunniss wants to produce an affordable miniature version of the helicopter.

Mr Bunniss, 50, from Bristol University, is working to update the autogyro, a 1920s minicopter, so business travellers can use it to get to work.

The new version of the autogyro - best know for its appearance in Bond movie You Only Live Twice - is easier to handle than a helicopter and will be half the price.

The high life

Mr Bunniss, a research fellow in rotary wing aerodynamics, has set up a company, Rotary Wing Innovations, with two colleagues to develop the aircraft.

He wants to make it safer and more luxurious - heated, quiet and covered to appeal to the time-pressed commuter.

Mr Bunniss said: "Today's autogyro is very basic, like a stick insect.

minicopter in flight
Minicopters could be the commuter transport of the future

"There are only the bare bones to make it light and it's not very forgiving.

"It really only appeals to aviation enthusiasts, but we want to bring it back.

"It will never replace the helicopter but it is cheaper to run and we believe there is a niche in the market.

"It doesn't need a runway and it can take off in its own space, so it is perfect for getting from A to B.

"I don't expect to see it in city centres, but it would be ideal for people working in out-of-town factories or complexes where it could land in car parks and fields."


It doesn't need a runway... so it is perfect for getting from A to B

Peter Bunniss
The team is now testing and developing a new rotor blade to give the pilot greater control in manoeuvres.

The new aircraft is expected to come on to the market in 2007 at a cost of between 70,000 and 80,000.

The company was awarded 45,000 by the Department of Trade and Industry's Smart award scheme and 15,000 from the Bristol Enterprise Centre for the project.


Click here to go to Bristol
See also:

26 Sep 02 | Business
19 May 02 | England
24 Mar 02 | England
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