HX50 is being developed using EASA CS-27 as the basis for its airworthiness approval. That’s the full certified type standard. As such we don’t anticipate any significant limitations on the ability to fly HX50 in any given class of airspace beyond those that would be applied to a fully type certified aircraft, although this does vary around the world.
There is a 5,000 hour or 5 year nose to tail warranty on the aircraft. For the first 5 years of your ownership there will be no unforeseen maintenance costs at all. There is a basic inspection of the engine at the 100 hour point, and at various multiples of 100 hours for certain parts that need to be checked.
Production of the HX50 will start in August 2023.
Yes if you are a qualified flight instructor you can get a type rating for training HX50 owners and possibly members of their families.
HASM is delivered through the digital cockpit, through the Hill app, allowing Hill to track the health of the aircraft, licensing and medicals, as well as offering support and feedback to our pilot community, and giving social media updates. This will ensure commercial aviation levels of safety and support, and easy access to instructors, examiners and pilots, all around the world. It also enables safety issues to be pointed out. Airworthiness directives and service notifications are all alerted through the app.
Yes. HX50 is being developed in the UK but we are carrying out concurrent approvals for the type within the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, and further approvals in different territories will be carried out as and when required.
A privately owned HX50 operating around 50 to 100 hours a year would need little more maintenance than its annual inspection, with costs well within £5,000 a year for a UK based aircraft. Hill intends to offer an in-house maintenance programme on subscription.
You have a 5,000-hour life on every component including the engine and gearboxes, and the only overhaul requirement you have is on condition, i.e., you have to maintain the condition of the aircraft. This means no calendar requirements and no crippling depreciation.
Yes, it will fit in a shipping container, and Hill can provide a suitable crate although you will have to arrange the actual exporting.
A 5 hour type rating is included with the purchase of the helicopter. If you need more hours to become proficient the factory will happily provide those to ensure you are comfortable with your aircraft.
Yes. There will also be training available for qualified pilots to be accredited for the HX50.
Yes, we have to secure some agreements for you off the back of our type approval, but unlike traditional experimental aircraft this helicopter is designed to the full certified standards so we fully meet EASA CS27 and all of the things certified aircraft meet which makes it much easier for us to secure permissions around other territories around the world because we are designing, developing, operating to a known standard. The first type approval has to be in place before you can do anything else so we get the type approval in place with the CAA and some authorities around the world will accept that, others will require more work on our part.
Yes this would be possible, and you could remove the horizontal stabiliser to allow it to fit.
The EASA CS27 regulatory protocols are recognised all over Europe and provide a common benchmark – approval of the aircraft will be done in the UK but will be applicable abroad.
A lot of research went into finding the right engine for the HX50, but eventually we decided to make our own, and seized that opportunity to deliver a modern, electronically controlled, efficient small turbine and that’s what has really unlocked the performance potential and the design opportunities for the helicopter.
The GT50 is being designed for value engineering in which design optimisation for the engine core plays a big part: this means making it less complex than current turbine engines, easier assembly, easier maintenance, the weight has been reduced. In addition, all materials needed to make the components are being directly sourced.
Yes, this can be done by the pilot.
The engine is currently being built. However, it is based on another engine that is very similar to it that currently has 2.5 million hours of service life on it. So all the technology in the GT50 is incredibly proved technology and is being designed in collaboration with a team of leading experts in the industry who been doing turbine design and manufacturing for the last 50 years.
The HX50 is so fast on so little power because it has an extremely slippery fuselage with very low drag, integrated hub and mast cowling, packaging of all mechanical elements, low leakage, optimal engine inlets and exhaust, so that allows us to move very efficiently through the air, and achieve a comfortable cruise speed.
The main and tail rotors will be actuated through conventional style gearboxes. The main rotor gearbox is a epicyclical style gearbox. We will be producing more information on the details of this soon as we are now building the gears for the gearboxes and will be testing them on a test rig.
HX50 has a maximum take-off weight of 1,650 kg, of which 800 kg is payload. The fuel tank is able to carry 5 hours worth of fuel, i.e. 175 gallons, with a maximum range of 700 nm. Typically, you would load up with 3 hours of fuel if you were carrying 5 people and their bags. It has a 500 horse power engine and is designed to cruise at a minimum of 140 knots.
The noise for the rotor systems should be the same as for an EC120, whereas the engine, transmission and mechanical noise should be less.
The pedals are very adjustable, allowing for a height range from a 4’11” person up to a 6’4” person. The cyclic is designed so that the grip will lift up and down. This will allow you to move it out of the way to get in and out of the cabin, and you can hold the grip at a height that’s comfortable. The seat will also be adjustable to ensure you fit perfectly no matter your size or stature.
Work on three prototypes that should be flying for testing purposes in late 2022 is underway. In terms of performance specs the expected results have been calculated with generous margins in place so that there is a high probability the results will be met, if not exceeded.
Provision is being made for anti-glare, anti-reflection and hooding solutions to optimise conditions in the cabin.
The blade rotation is counter clockwise similar to most North American built helicopters as well as earlier UK built helicopters.
Electric motors have been integrated into each of the rear wheels, so that when the aircraft is on the ground you can drive it into your hangar under electric power with the engine shut down. The system can be controlled from within the cockpit or from the ground via a smart phone app.
Although the 2-axis autopilot that is fitted as standard in the HX50 is more than adequate for most purposes, the 4-axis autopilot is a fully automatic flight control system with added functionality including: simultaneous flight control in all axes, enhanced handling qualities, enhanced envelope protection, auto-hover and improved gust response coming in the future. Choosing the 4-axis will also make it easier to upgrade to new advanced technological functions as they become available.
We offer equipment needed for mission specific applications, many enhancements to the cockpit to provide additional functionality, and features that will make the aircraft even more luxurious. The aircraft is available with premium or bespoke paint finish, climate seats, 4-axis advanced auto-pilot, Hill advanced digital cockpit, blade fold system, Helimove smart ground handling system, heated pitot tube, cargo hook, emergency floats, removable soft ground landing kit, passenger in-flight entertainment and child safety seat.
This is something Hill are working towards. By choosing the 4-axis autopilot now you would be able to access this facility more easily when it becomes available.
The procedure to remove the pins and fold back the blades is simple and quick – the pins can be accessed easily.
The iPad is front and centre in the centre of our cockpit and we have a secure Wi-Fi network between your iPad with its navigation app and the Hill digital cockpit so all the flight data and the flight planning data you have available on your app is communicating seamlessly with our onboard avionics. The route that you have planned out will communicate to our onboard GPS and our auto pilot system so it can fly the route you’ve got planned on your iPad and track that for you automatically.
Yes, the iPad sits in front of a vent, which blows air-conditioned air on to the back of the iPad, and our climate control system is very powerful. There will also be a shade provided as part of the iPad mount, and the roof skylights and side windows are tinted to manage the solar radiation getting into the cabin.
You will be able to download software updates via the internet and the Hill app. If it relates to safety it will be done under the warranty. If it’s a new capability it will be offered and you can choose to have it or not.
This is very unlikely as the digital panel and the back of the iPad will have cool air directed at it and the cockpit is air-conditioned. But the aircraft can be flown safely without the iPad if necessary.
Although the standard Hill digital cockpit is superbly equipped with a full suite of VFR helicopter avionic for easy and safe flying, the advanced version offers additional features such as advanced synthetic vision & obstacles, traffic awareness system, weather data integration, additional com radio and nav radio & HSI, plus a radar altimeter and ATC record & replay.
The avionics of the HX50 were developed to specifically suit the mission of a VFR helicopter pilot flying point to point, to provide the information needed as clearly as possible, and to integrate with your iPad. This is very different from the typical avionics used today for fixed wing aircraft that fly airport to airport.
The standard HX50 comes with a 2-axis autopilot. This means that you get an actuator on only the cyclic, so it will hold the helicopter stable and hold a heading as well as an altitude or airspeed. That is because it can't control the collective. The upgrade option to the 4-axis pilot puts actuators on the collective and pedals as well, so it can control both the altitude and airspeed for you. When the HX50 comes to market in 2023 these will be the features available. However, because we have those actuators there already if you choose the option with the 4-axis autopilot now that means that we can keep working on the features for things like auto hover, auto take off and land, etc. These will be features that will be available in future free software updates for anyone choosing the 4-axis autopilot option.
Dual controls are standard on the helicopter. Everyone needs to be able to get recurrent training on their aircraft so you will always need to have the option to have the dual controls installed. The collective on the passenger’s side is more of a standard style collective. The dual controls will be quick and easy to remove and install.
You’ll come and work alongside our engineers and manufacturing operatives for two weeks to assemble your aircraft, and by doing that you’ll learn all about the engine and the intimate details of how the helicopter works, taking part in what is an educational course to make you into a knowledgeable and responsible owner/operator. Anyone who has the skills to safely pilot and operate a helicopter will be able to successfully come to the build school and build their helicopter.
This would be very complicated to do well so it is not likely to happen.
Yes, we will have pilots available for training or you can bring a pilot with you to be trained.
The aircraft is manufactured to the latest certified standards – other than the owner's involvement it is certified. The approval route both in the UK and abroad is far more aligned to certified aircraft than to kit built aircraft. A lot of limitations in the kit built regulations were there because they were designed to give people a streamlined route through regulations for people building a kit aircraft in their garage. Once UK approval is done it will be type acceptance in other territories. It will fly under permit to fly in the UK, experimental amateur built in the US. Permit to fly in the experimental section is very flexible. We meet the full type certification standards with all the approvals of a fully certified organisation, we carry the operating limitations covered by EASA 27, day and night VFR. The aircraft can’t be used for anything commercial.
You will take part in 51% of the time it takes to build the aircraft. This is hands-on manufacturing and assembly of the structural components, including composite manufacturing and assembling flight controls and avionics. You will not be required to build the engine or gearbox or digital cockpit but you will see how they are built. Our engineers and mechanics will walk you through every step. You would attend the course from 9 to 5 for 10 working days. This is NOT a formality. Quality checks will be done and documented.
Both HX50, the aircraft for private owners and HC50, the certified variant of it, are being developed in parallel. HC50 will take a little bit longer to bring to market on account of the longer gestation period for the certified variant, but both will be available.
Yes. Our test pilots will do the flight test but there will be an opportunity for the owner to fly the aircraft before shipping.
More than one person can participate. However, the rules say that this is for your education and recreation so you can’t designate someone to do the build for you. If it’s a syndicated machine you build in terms of your ownership. You may be able to involve family members.
HX50 will be initially type approved for day and night VFR operations. We are anticipating producing an IFR version of the HC50 in the future but it does require relatively significant upgrades to the aircraft in terms of system redundancy, dual engines, dual electrical systems, dual hydraulic systems, dual auto-pilots, de-icing equipment and significant redundancy in the automatic stabilisation system, so that probably won’t happen for at least 5 years.
By minimising the administrative costs of the certification process, and the subsequent reduced cost of demonstrating the aircraft’s airworthiness and bringing it to market, we can afford to put a lot more investment into developing aspects that improve safety. For example, HX50 comes with a 2-axis autopilot as standard and it has an advanced electronic flight instrument system which drastically reduces the pilot’s work load for VFR flying. In addition, having our own engine with huge power reserves makes flying the helicopter easier and safer in confined area landings.
By using the experimental sector, we are able to deliver the highest levels of air-worthiness but without the associated costs of the bureaucracy that go with the certification process. It gives us a great deal of flexibility to develop a genuinely next generation best of breed helicopter by avoiding a lot of the limitations that are imposed on manufacturers by certification.
The HC50 will be entirely factory built in the same premises as the HX50, without the participation of the owner; it will have a 1,000 hour, 2-year warranty, and there will be no restrictions on its use for commercial operation. Due to the more costly certification process for the HX50, it will be priced higher than the HX50.
The HC50 helicopter, identical to the HX50 but fully certified for commercial use, is expected to be available by 2026.
The HX50 helicopter, designed for private owner pilots, is being developed along with its commercial version, the identical HC50, both meeting the latest EASA and FAA certification standards for small/normal category rotorcraft. The HX50, which is coming out in 2023, is provided to customers with an amateur-built airworthiness approval by virtue of its 51% build programme. The HC50 will take longer to certify for commercial operators and it will be available by 2026.
Hill Helicopters is now actively working on building components of the engine, the airframe, gearboxes etc. What you start with building is systems. You need to first flesh out all the issues that you have in individual systems. Then you move on to subsystems, so you assemble and test subsystems and flesh out all the issues that you have in those. Then you assemble and test the ground running prototypes. This will happen in 2022. We will start showing you many more physical things being built and tested over the coming few months. Recent updates are being documented in videos on the Journey to HX50 page.
The prototype aircrafts will be tested far beyond minimum standard, certification standard, with further shakedown testing, ground testing, in many different environments.
The first deliveries are planned for August 2023.
The engine and other components are being built, tested and prototyped in a 10,000 sq ft purpose-built development centre where the entire development team is now working. Ground testing and approvals will take place there, with flight testing likely at either of two nearby airports. A 250,000 sq ft factory site has been located and is currently being designed - this will eventually be the Hill International Headquarters, operational by 2023.
In keeping the HX50 an accessible and cost-effective aircraft there is no intention to push the price up to very high levels.
The HX50 comes with a comprehensive list of options and is priced at a reasonable £495,000. To see the wide range of extra options available, complete with prices, we suggest you go to the Configurator on the website.
By bringing the manufacturing of virtually all components in-house and producing them from raw materials we can carefully control the price of those components. This allows as in tern to pass those savings on to our customers.
HX50 is available in seven different stunning exterior colours, with a choice of ten gorgeous interior shades, but the limits are down to your own imagination. Bespoke paint schemes are available if you want to colour match a vehicle or anything you’re interested in. You can experiment with the full range of colour combinations by using the configurator.
12 months before production of your specific aircraft, or even later.
The team at Hill is constantly growing. We currently have a team over 65 but this number is constantly increasing.
To deliver the HX50 program we’ve built up a truly exceptional team over the last 20 years or so of people who are really at the top of their game, not just in aerospace but in a number of areas in the engineering industry. They come from backgrounds in companies like Bentley, Rolls Royce, Aston Martin and many other industry leaders, and have a huge amount of expertise and experience that they are dedicating to the common goal of working together to deliver this best of breed helicopter.
Yes. There is a filter over the inlet barrier which is suitable for extreme conditions and can be easily removed for inspection and cleaning.
You can nominate your mechanic to come to the UK to take our maintenance course to become certified to carry out the maintenance on your aircraft. Alternatively, as the HX50 community grows, you will be able to connect and share information with owners in your area – the Hill app will also provide information on where to find mechanics.
It is a fairly simple system so maintenance will not be complicated. Each aircraft is sold with a maintenance course, there will be a subscription based support for maintenance.
The HX50 is definitely being designed to be safe and simple to operate for low hour pilots, both from the point of view of pilots with little flying experience, and those who plan to fly their helicopters for a few hours per year. Hill are setting up everything to support private pilot owners in their 51% build program which will be very instructive on every aspect of the aircraft, including safety and maintenance.
The aircraft is designed to be very robust and should land intact, if necessary, on its belly. There are hard points on the underside, on the nose and the stub wings. The landing gear can also be operated manually.
No, in fact with VFR flying in a helicopter oxygen is rarely if ever needed.
The HX50 does not have an emergency parachute on purpose. There are several issues that come along with putting a parachute on the helicopter such as CofG issues, as well as maintenance and up-keep on the system to ensure that it will deploy when you need it to. Also when you deploy a parachute you are at the mercy of wherever that helicopter floats and lands. What you really want to focus on are great autorotation characteristics. So you want to make sure the rotor system has a very high inertia. The HX50 has about the same inertia as a Bell 206L4. Then you want to make sure that when you are in autorotation you have good RPM range without damaging anything. So the rotor head design along with the blades allows for a large range of RPM's without damaging anything. Then you want good run on capability. So with the wheels you can run this helicopter onto a smooth surface quite nicely. In the event of an engine failure those are the critical areas to focus efforts on.
Yes, the front seats can be adjusted to go forward and back to allow for people of different heights. Seats can move forward by 150 mm and up by 50 mm, pedals can be moved back and up. This means that field of view is maintained for all pilots and there is a full range of travel on flight controls for all pilot sizes.
Yes, for maximising comfort and because it’s better from a crash-worthy perspective.
Currently it is up to 300 lb and in the finalised version it could go up to 350 lb.
Yes, the rear seats are removable as is the co-pilot seat, and there are tie down points on the cabin floor.
No, they are the same price.
The wheeled landing gear is indeed retractable, the fixed skid undercarriage is not.
Landing on hard sand, in a wet field, on dry sand should be OK – a muddy field or soft snow could cause a problem. For these kinds of conditions the wheels can be fitted with “bear paws” and the aircraft flown with the undercarriage down.
Yes, there are brakes on the two main back wheels and a castor lock on the front wheel.
There will be over centre toggle wheels with a hard point on the nose so you can tow it in, and there may be a motorised version of that.
At this stage it’s not looking like you will be able to swap between the two. You choose once and it will need to stay in that configuration.
The fixed skids are slightly lighter than wheels but you can expect to lose approximately 15kts of speed off the140kts cruise speed. Unfortunately 30% of your drag comes from the undercarriage so it has to come with a major penalty. This is why the helicopter was designed with the wheeled retractable landing gear so that you wouldn't have that drag and therefore get a much faster helicopter.
Most of them. Not electronic components, screens, certified avionics, control cables or tires, but the structure, mechanics and aerodynamics are entirely manufactured by Hill.
Eventually there will be a pilot operating handbook, a parts catalogue, a maintenance manual and a training manual but these are not available yet.
Yes, the controls and cyclic can be removed easily if required.
Yes, the HX50 is being developed to resist corrosion, rust, etc. to the very high standards demanded by regulations and will undergo rigorous testing worldwide in extreme weather conditions. Flight controls will be sealed, coatings will be used, magnesium will not be used. There will be a careful selection of materials, composites and protection on the blades.
You can put up to 200 kg or 400 lb in depending on how many passengers are on board.
With an ample, well-planned space of 0.7 cubic metres and big doors on either side you will be able to take your skis. A surfboard could be accommodated by removing one front seat.
There have been many requests for a Simulator and one will be provided at a later date. It would be useful for training for situations which could not be taught in real life.
Yes, although it is a very simple interface that should be fairly easy to learn when you take delivery of your HX50.
There is no de-icing system so you have to avoid icing conditions but the HX50 will be approved for temperatures down to minus 30 degrees C. Components are being developed and will be tested in all conditions including extreme cold.
Many of these things have technical merit and we will consider them in due course. The performance we have from our current composite materials, both fibres and resin are more than sufficient to meet the performance and durability requirements for the HX50. As with any commercial engineering development programme the most important criteria required to ensure you successfully deliver a product to market is knowing when to stop innovating and start producing the product.