Bulgarian gyrocopter manufacturer Niki Rotor Aviation plans to expand the production of carbon components, as well as its assembly capacity near the town of Pravets in the next three years. The gyroplane, also known as gyrocopter, is a low-altitude light aircraft that can fly for a long time at a low speed. In addition to leisure flights, it can also be used for surveillance, people search and similar missions.
More than tripling sales
Niki Rotor Aviation, which currently sells 10 to 15 aircraft a year, expects to increase the number to 50 once the expansion is completed in 2026. The company develops three models in different modifications: Kallithea (from Greek "the best view"), Lightning (which is under certification), and Cruiser, which was presented at Aero Messe exhibition in Friedrichshafen, Germany, in late April.
"In the next three years, we are planning to expand our production and assembly facilities in a new factory that will be able to house the production of carbon components for the aviation industry: airplanes, helicopters and gyrocopters. Only 20% of manufacturers worldwide have their own resources for component production," managing director Miglena Kopcheva told the Capital Weekly.
The first models were designed by her father, Nikolay Nikolov, who holds a 50% stake in the company. The family has a larger business, too: production of commercial equipment. The gyrocopter entity was established four to five years ago and is still in the process of conquering market positions.
The company does not provide information about the total investment it has made so far. However, the development of its latest model, the Cruiser, cost 500,000 levs (250,000 euro), including design, materials and tests. The aircraft is made entirely of carbon - a low-weight, extremely strong material ensuring high maneuvering capabilities and safety during flight. The price of Kallithea starts from 135,000 euro and that of Cruiser, from 160,000 euro.
From leisure to securityThe expansion will also double the number of the employed to some 40 people, including test pilots, specialists, engineers. In 2023 the company is also launching a new training program for mechanics and pilots, expanding its line of business. Niki Rotor Aviation has representative offices in several countries and expects to grow further.
"Our customers are people above 50 years of age, who have stable incomes and time for a new hobby. Many of our foreign partners are aircraft pilots, others are training to be pilots. The gyrocopter is designed for visual flights, which makes it a preferred aircraft for leisure. We work mainly with airports and training centers, which offer training for both pilots and mechanics," Kopcheva explained. In her words, the gyrocopter is the safest and cheapest aircraft in ultralight aviation.
The gyrocopter also has civilian and defense applications: it can be used for surveillance of hard-to-reach areas, border zones, etc. Such aircraft are already used in many countries by police for security and surveillance missions. That is a trend that will gain considerable speed in the next five years, Niki Rotor Aviation told the Capital Weekly. Besides, its maintenance is cheap and the average fuel consumption is 20 liters of gasoline per hour.