Chayair Manufacturing and Aviation (Pty) Ltd was a South African company located in the city of Messina in Limpopo Province in the northern part of South Africa. It was formed in January 1997 by Norman Shelley and Wessel Visser to develop, manufacture and market the Sycamore gyrocopter. The name was derived from the Hebrew "chay" (pronounced ghay) meaning to prosper.
Flight-testing and certification of the first prototype Sycamore was completed in mid 1998, with production starting in September. A limited production schedule of one unit every six weeks was planned for the first year but manufacturing capacity was raised to allow the production of one unit every three weeks. Chayair was purchased by Stefan Grove in 2003.
By late 2008, the company was in the process of transferring to Namibia, to be renamed as Starex. By early 2010, the company appeared to have left South Africa but could not be identified as operating elsewhere; similarly in 2011. However, in 2010 Lithuanian companies Termikas and Sportine Aviacija announced joint plans to manufacture the Sycamore in their home country.
The Sycamore is/was also manufactured under licence in Iran by the Paravar Pars Company.
South African production appears to be approximately 53 examples, including only three of the Mk2000 version.
The Sycamore is a super-streamlined two-seat tandem trainer with dual controls for safe and advanced training. It features a full instrument panel, bolted aluminum airframe, tough spring steel landing gear, 30-33 ft aluminum rotor with ”8h12” profile, conventional ratio controls and a large horizontal stabilizer. It has low maintenance and running costs and has been developed and tested under harsh African environmental conditions.
The Sycamore was available in two versions, the Mark 1 with a fully enclosed composite fuselage with removable doors, and the Mark 2000 with an open composite fuselage. Both versions can be powered by either the 115bhp Rotax 914 turbo or 160bhp Subaru EJ 2.5 (Mk1 su/Mk2000 su).
The Chayair Sycamore is a South African autogyro, designed and produced by Chayair of Musina. The aircraft is supplied as a kit for amateur construction or as a complete ready-to-fly-aircraft.
The Sycamore features a single main rotor, a two-seats-in-tandem open or optionally enclosed cockpit, tricycle landing gear with wheel pants and a four cylinder, liquid and air-cooled, four-stroke, dual-ignition turbocharged 115 hp (86 kW) Rotax 914F engine in pusher configuration. The 160 hp (119 kW) Subaru EJ22 is optional.
The aircraft fuselage is made from bolted-together aluminum tubing and mounts a 9.10 m (29.9 ft) diameter Advanced Kinetics rotor. The tailplane features five vertical tail surfaces for improved directional stability. The enclosed Sycamore Mk 1 version has an empty weight of 380 kg (840 lb) and a gross weight of 590 kg (1,300 lb), giving a useful load of 210 kg (460 lb).
By December 2012 one example had been registered in the United States with the Federal Aviation Administration in the Experimental - Amateur-built category.
Sycamore Mk 1 - Enclosed cockpit version
Sycamore Mk 2000 - Open cockpit version