Our ability to bring people closer to their dreams is what inspires us every day and keeps us going. We are pleased to share with you our interview with Forbes , in which our founder and CEO Nikolay Nikolov shared more about Niki Rotor Aviation’s mission and values.
“Mr. Nikolov, what are the advantages of autogyros over other aircraft and what are they most often used for?
The autogyro is the safest aircraft invented by man to date. At the same time, it is significantly more economical compared to the airplane and the helicopter and offers more dynamic flying. In our construction, you can fly with doors or remove them, and this does not change the flight parameters of the machine – we combine two machines in one. An autogyro is a machine that flies low, about 1 meter high, and can fly at 30 km/h – no other aircraft can do that. It is for this reason that they are used to monitor hard-to-reach places and guard military zones, but let’s not forget that flying a gyroplane is primarily for pleasure. The advantages of autogyros over other aircraft are many. I recommend trying everything else and then flying the autogyro. Only then can you feel the magic.
Why did you decide to start an aviation business?
I have been involved in model airplanes since I was a child, and my dream was to build something in which I could fly. At first I worked on small models like gliders. Then I went through more complex radio controlled models with turbine engines. After them, I came to the creation of an autogyro – a perfect machine combining the characteristics of an airplane and a helicopter. I am proud that my team and I went through many vicissitudes and they motivated us for the global market. Today I have partners all over the world and our aircraft fly in New Zealand, Los Angeles, Germany, France, Czech Republic, Hungary, and soon in Australia and Canada.
Before creating the NIKI gyroscope, your business was focused on the production of helicopters. What caused the change in direction?
As an entrepreneur and visionary, I am someone who likes to take risks and set high goals. In 2000, I noticed that the dynamics of radio controlled models were severely limited. My team and I dived into aviation. The goal was to build an all-composite, two-seater helicopter with as light a construction as possible. We started with the most complex aircraft of all and after several years of hard work we reached ground trials. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to fly and we found that we had a lot to learn about the structures, but for me and my team it was a great challenge. We were not ready for a helicopter, but we gained a lot of experience and so we started working in the direction of autogyros. Then I delved into the construction of this machine in more detail and just fell in love. It looks a lot like a helicopter, but it’s not.
I started working towards perfecting our autogyro concept. Years later, I became the first pilot and instructor of this model of aircraft in Bulgaria.
What helped you make a successful business transformation?
I saw a good opportunity in the market and I had a team built with experience in development, in composite work, in the engineering calculation of each element. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
And here comes the turn of a key factor for our success. I had a serious setback in the face of my core business of metalworking and commercial furniture. Without serious and permanent investment, flying remains just a hobby.
Thanks to him, we now offer not one, but two models of autogyros. Flagship Lighting is characterized by unique design and construction, and Kalithea (translation: beautiful view) captivates with its flight characteristics, stability and ease of handling. Both machines have single cabs and the difference visually is only in the tail. We opted for a spacious cabin that provides comfort during a long flight even for larger people. We offer our auto-weights in the high segment of the market and focus on individuality. Everyone himself can configure his machine in a way that suits his needs, purpose and goals.
I am proud that my team and I went through many vicissitudes and they motivated us for the global market. Today I have partners all over the world and our aircraft fly in New Zealand, Los Angeles, Germany, France, Czech Republic, Hungary and soon in Australia and Canada
Do you feel that through Niki Rotor Aviation you have found the balance between business, hobby and family life?
The balance is very difficult, but I can safely say that I am a happy person. When a hobby becomes a business, it leads to a lot of commitment. But it’s still a hobby and gives pleasure.
Probably because of this, my desire to build the first Bulgarian helicopter with enviable technical perimeters for the world market has not left me. On my desk is the documentation for a new model we’ll be starting work on soon. In other words, we will finish what we started 20 years ago, but with much more experience, knowledge and confidence.
What is your biggest advantage over other companies in the sector?
The advantages of our autogyro are many. They concern both the technical characteristics of the model and the optimal aerodynamic calculation. The entire structure is made of carbon. Including the tail. The only metal elements on the machine are the pedals, the control levers and the motor frame. We rely on light materials that guarantee us more stability, strength and resistance. Maximum take-off weight is 560 kg. The customer has optional equipment where he can choose the type of his navigation, an additional option to control the machine from the passenger seat, the color of the interior and the exterior design.
We are distinguished by a futuristic design, a large glazed cabin that creates a good overview and visibility for the pilot and passenger. We rely on innovation in every system. For example, the rotor system is very different and allows operation with the lowest vibrations. Yet everything focuses on a few key elements – exceptional durability, safety and flight reliability. What I have aimed for is a reliable machine with minimal service and maintenance requirements from its users. That’s why most of the items have a lifetime warranty.
My team and I have spent a lot of time researching this type of aircraft and the potential market for it. Over the years I have become familiar with the pros and cons, read many books from its inception in 1926 to today, and gathered experience from the best.
The desire to build the first Bulgarian helicopter with enviable technical perimeters has not left me.”