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Japan Claims It Has Compact Copter

March 24, 2000

TOKYO (AP) _ A Japanese company has built what it says is the world’s smallest helicopter, a futuristic-looking device that it plans to start selling over the Internet this summer.

The compact copter, which seats one and can travel as fast as 60 miles per hour, was on display Friday at the Japan International Aerospace 2000 exhibition.

Lacking the bubble-like body of a traditional helicopter, it looks like a chair with propellers attached. The passenger sits in the open with feet propped on a bar and hands on a horizontal rod used for steering.

Similar helicopters have been developed for military use, but the Gen H-4 is ``purely for fun,″ said Engineering System Co. vice president Masumi Yanagisawa.

Anyone can learn to fly it in just a few hours, because it is stable and easy to maneuver, he said.

The company, which is in negotiations with U.S. aviation authorities, wants to sell the copter in the United States starting in June, Yanagisawa said.

U.S. owners will not need a license to operate the gasoline-powered craft, he added. The company does not currently plan to sell the Gen H-4 in Japan or elsewhere.

The helicopter, made of aluminum pipes and driven by a gasoline-powered engine, will cost about $30,000 and will be sold via the company’s Web site on a trial basis.

Helicopters will be sold in kit form for the buyer to assemble. Each comes with an emergency parachute, and it can be flown for 30 to 60 minutes at a stretch.

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On the Net: http://www.engineeringsystem.co.jp/

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