One of the brightest stars in the Mosaic regulatory constellation is allowing LSA to do “aerial work.” In today’s LSA, the only compensated activities Americans can perform are flight instruction and limited towing operations. Any more is prohibited by SP/LSA regulations. Why is this important? Since 2014, LAMA has explained that light aircraft could be used productively for many work missions, although the Association was careful to stress that it was not advocating for passenger or cargo hauling. Many other aerial working activities were demonstrated to FAA. Agency rule writers agreed and the opportunity is coming with Mosaic. Admittedly, the community does not yet have all the information needed on what pilot credentials will be required to use Mosaic LSA for aerial work, but as the agency weighs comments and discusses this internally, we hope Flight Standards (which manages such things) will remain as reasonable as the Aircraft Certification group. In this article I am pleased to observe one credible use of an LSA to do some serious aerial work.
Little Airplanes Doing Big WorkAs we head into the Christmas holidays, Italian gyroplane producer, MagniGyro, sent news about their support for and work with an organization called the Elephant Protection Trust. Here is a key excellent example of how such aircraft can be used productively and effectively. To spot elephants, aerial vehicles are reportedly best and ones that can fly slowly enough to observe details are optimal. Fixed wing aircraft can do some of the same work, but must constantly circle and they still fly at speeds beyond optimal for such observations. A helicopter is prohibitively expensive and requires too much maintenance. As such, helicopters are not a real consideration. Enter gyroplanes. These aircraft — which fly somewhat similarly to a fixed wing aircraft — can be excellent for such aerial observation. Their maintenance is vastly less than that required by a helicopter. People at the Elephant Protection Trust have embraced gyroplanes, and I'm pleased to present some details of their story, as provided by MagniGyro. "Today, we're excited to take you on a journey into the world of Magnigyro in the heart of South Africa," wrote the company exuberantly! "As you know, flying gyros is a beautiful hobby shared by many people all over the world. For some people, however, this hobby has become an important job with a big role in the protection and defense of wildlife. "A great example is given by our friend Keith Hellyer who dedicates his life to fight every day against poachers with his fleet of three M24 Orion gyros and one M22 Voyager in the Tsavo’s Kasigau corridor in Kenya. The aircraft are used to monitor elephant movements, acting as deterrent against poachers and pinpointing the presence of intruders so that ranger patrols on the ground can be directed towards them. "The M24 Orion (side-by-side, enclosed) in particular has proven to be a valid ally in this important task, allowing rapid travel and immediate intervention. "Happily, this is not the longer the only example," MagniGyro continued. "A new luxuriant green M16 Tandem Trainer (nearby image) was recently approved by the CAA and is aimed to be used to fly around in the Shamwari Game Resort, a 30,000 hectare game reserve situated in the heart of the Eastern Cape in South Africa. "Here is the largest population of private free-roaming black and white rhino animals in South Africa. "Safari Operation Manager Andrew Kearney is working hand-in-hand with instructor Caroline Zalewsky Blane to bring the gyro from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth in an exciting two-day trip," said the Trust. "The new gyro will assist the rangers in supervising these fascinating animals during the regular surveillance of the reserve." Appreciation Expressed: "The Wildlife Works Elephant Protection Trust wishes to send a massive thank you to Rob Collinge for his generous donation of his beloved gyrocopter to our aerial surveillance team. This support will ensure that aerial patrols are conducted in the vital area of the Kasigau Corridor, thus keeping an eye on the wildlife and their habitat in the Tsavo Conservation Area. "Rob first learned to fly in Kenya in 2004 and has a deep knowledge of Kenya’s hidden wild places. We are very grateful that Rob's passion for wildlife and flying has led him to donate his gyrocopter to this cause."
The elephant population in Kenya is increasing by 5% annually with the total population estimated to be just over 36,000."A big thank you to Magnigyro for their continued partnership, and keeping our gyrocopters durable and safe," expressed the Trust. "We recently received two sets of rotor blades (nearby image) that will ensure our gyrocopters are well suited for a multitude of tasks."
Why Should You Care? …about Aerial WorkOther than the fascinating story of giant elephants protected by little gyroplanes, why should you be interested in the opportunity for a company to sell into the aerial work market? Aerial work is helpful because a manufacturer that can sell some units for a commercial purpose may sell these work machines at a higher profit margin. In turn, this should strengthen their business, helping to ensure they can continue to provide parts and service for the airplane you bought from them. Healthier businesses can support their customers better. That alone makes the effort worthwhile. These aircraft perform useful activities while consuming less fuel and making less noise, bringing further benefits to the idea of aerial work.
- Magni USA, U.S. importer contact info, on this website
- MagniGyro of Italy, contact info and all content for brand, on this website
- Pilot Report on MagniGyro — also see video below
- Elephant Protection Trust, organization website — you can donate if interested