British engineer Jason Hill has been flying helicopters for nearly 20 years, and has more recently been developing a five-seat three-blade turbine helicopter that will not be “just another new helicopter”. Instead, he is aiming to disrupt the helicopter industry at least as much as Elon Musk has disrupted the car industry with his Tesla vehicles. The HX50 helicopter will be produced in the UK by his eponymous company Hill Helicopters.
Announced today, this five seat single-turbine has its first flight scheduled for 2022, with deliveries from 2023. This retractable gear aircraft will bring a significant step-up in style to the market and a cabin size that will seat 5 people in as much style, comfort and refinement as a high end automobile.
The standard package is a much higher specification too. The standard package will include leather interior, foam-filled bladder fuel tank, key-less entry, removable duals, covers, Bose Bluetooth headsets, start/stop button linked to the dual FADEC, 2-axis autopilot, blade fold, hydraulic controls, air conditioning, USB ports, flight data recorder, rotor brake, belly hard points, adjustable pedals, 4-point harnesses, and retractable undercarriage. While that doesn’t leave much, there will be further options including a 4-axis autopilot, and a “Heli-Move Kit” whereby the wheels are powered so you can use an app on your phone to control the helicopter on its own wheels into the hangar.
Gross weight will be 3630lb (1650kg), Empty weight 1870lb (850kg) and thus payload of 1760lb (800kg). Cruise speed will be high at 140 knots and maximum endurance of 5 hours, plenty enough until the pilot needs a comfort break.
Hill started his career at Leonardo Helicopters in the GKN Westland days and later went on to complete his Ph.D. in helicopter aerodynamics on their behalf. He later formed Dynamiq Engineering – specialising in rapid development of new products & technology by injecting new technology into stagnant industries. Hill has now focused his team of field-proven specialists on exploiting the opportunity afforded by the significant lack of innovation in the light helicopter industry. Combining this level of expertise with cutting edge engineering design, analysis and development approaches dramatically reduces the product development and testing period.
The airframe will be fully composite, meeting the latest international crashworthiness requirements and featuring an integrated high-authority shrouded tail rotor. The main rotor is of three-bladed, high-inertia and hingeless design, with composite blades employing modern evolving profile planform and three-dimensional tips delivering very high performance and reduced noise. The entire main rotor head is contained within a low-drag aerodynamic fairing that optimises the aircraft for efficient high-speed cruise. The HX50 will use a 500 shp turbine with ample power to deliver the high cruise speed of 140 knots.
The company has an excellent working relationship with the UK CAA and is actively working on the aircraft approvals both domestically and internationally, to minimise the time-to-market. The aircraft is being developed to fully comply with the latest EASA CS-27 in the UK and Europe, FAR-27 in the US and AWM527 in Canada.
Operating costs will also be very advantageous and will be announced in a few weeks and will benefit substantially from Hill-backed by-the-hour maintenance programs in addition to manufacturer backed insurance.
For more information see www.HillHelicopters.com
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
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