HomeGeneralHill Helicopters: Building a Helicopter from the Ground Up

Hill Helicopters: Building a Helicopter from the Ground Up

Creating a helicopter is no small task, but this is exactly the task that Dr. Jason Hill, Ph.D., and his team at Hill Helicopters have taken on by creating the HX50. To do truly groundbreaking work in this market, research began back in 2007 to find out what the modern owner of a personal luxury helicopter wants. Skip ahead to 2010 when they started developing the tech until 2015 when they finally were able to design the aircraft.

The most interesting thing about purchasing from Hill Helicopters is that when you purchase it, you’ll spend two weeks at the factory in the United Kingdom working with the team as you help to build it yourself. According to Dr. Hill, this is so you would be able to completely understand the inner workings of the helicopter and be directly involved in its creation. He says that, by having a better understanding and appreciation of the helicopter, owners would “enable long-term safe operation of their aircraft.”

Hill Helicopters
Image: Hill Helicopters

What’s in the helicopter

Hill Helicopters has designed its GT50 turbine in-house with its entire engine package simplified and lightened over more traditional turbines. The compressor has been removed, replaced by a direct-drive starter-generator. Being completely electronically controlled makes for easy start-up and management. Designed in a modular way, this reduces maintenance costs and complexity.

The Hill Digital Cockpit is made for the modern pilot. The team partnered with a leading automotive graphics provider, Rightware, using their Kanzi software. This produced an ergonomically designed, simple but intuitive interface with navigation through a fully integrated iPad. This is an area where aviation has always lagged behind motorcars. This system will provide access to the pilot community, monitor the aircraft’s health status, and give easy access to pilot and technical support.

Hill Helicopters have also built their app and cloud infrastructure to manage all of this. Not only does the helicopter warn you of any issues, but will also even suggest appropriate actions to rectify the situation. On top of this, the pilot and helicopter logs will be recorded.

Hill Helicopters
Image: Hill Helicopters

Apart from that, you’ll have panoramic windows, sculpted seats, climate control, and Bluetooth connectivity throughout the cabin, making this a pleasure to fly with whether you’re in the pilot’s seat or not. Leveraging on techniques learned from the solar, car, and boat building industries, the entire fuselage will be a single carbon piece.

At the time of writing, Hill is about to start pre-orders with expected availability in 2023. At a base unit price of £495,000 or $685,000, it will be out of reach for most of us. We continue to watch with eager anticipation as the Hill Helicopters team helps to push general aviation forward.

YouTube: HX50: The Journey is as Desirable as Your Destination

Photo credit: The image is owned by Hill Helicopters and has been provided for press usage.

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Grant Wood
Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert with an interest in all things tech.