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Hill Helicopters HX50

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Hill Helicopters HX50

Old 19th Aug 2022, 14:46
  #501 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by CGameProgrammerr
...the private helicopter market is very small at the moment, so manufacturers have largely ignored it. Robinson is one of the few exceptions.
Apparently the private helicopter market is massive (I heard 80% somewhere, for light helicopter market), but because of the 12 year calendar life of Robinsons, people are forced to put them out to hire, so they MUST be certified for the commercial work to lube up the depreciation pineapple. Flight schools trash them. Insurance is through the roof doing ab-initio or other risky commercial work. Inevitable chicken & egg here with certification requirements.

I think HX50 will open up an entirely new market of people that would not have otherwise bought a machine at all, who are happy to hangar it and fly 50hrs/year privately. As Jason Hill puts it: people who can afford the capital cost, but who cannot afford to lose it. The value being dependent on the condition and hours of the machine, not the calendar life. You have an asset after 10-15 years you can sell. Like my experimental plane (which has gone up in value in 8 years, despite only being used 20hrs/year).

I am squarely in this purchaser demographic: I put in an order, but would not have otherwise bought anything. An R44 is just a bit too all-round **** (range, speed, payload) for my desired mission profiles, and just way too expensive for what it is. Fun for hiring & flying around the flag pole or to nearby destinations, but that's about it (talking private ops here). Other experimentals are basically 2-seaters. Other turbines very expensive operating costs.

To answer some other queries: HX50 is the main sale. Not many HC50 orders in by comparison (basically HC50 only open to HX50 orders currently to secure early slots). Concurrent certification will take years and years in parallel (2030?) - I don't think that's any secret that will be difficult and prolonged, but Brexit and lack of any manufacturing in UK would see political pressure on CAA to approve & support (assuming safe), rather than be tangled up in red tape. HX airworthiness will be based on the HC certification standards so I wouldn't expect many restrictions in my jurisdiction - probably similar to my conventional sport aerobatic experimental airplane which only has 1 small limitation on the CoA.

Yes build is 2 weeks in factory in UK for final assembly (HX50). That allows for 51% build log & privileges that go along with that (experimental owners know how much money this saves). Plus the flexibility of owning & operating experimental aircraft is just so good for private ops, compared with all the nonsense that comes with certified aircraft. To me this is a large part of the benefit, and 2 weeks is as good as it gets for this 51%. I wouldn't even want a HC50 for private use.

Engine isn't revolutionary. Small improvements on a known working design. The elephant in the room is he wants to crank out a 500hp (400hp continuous) for $100k a piece, versus $hundreds from Rolls. Also fit exactly the right size to match the helicopter (perfect power:weight for application with no wastage), has decent efficiency and is lightweight & uses modern manufacturing techniques for reliability, FADEC controlled, no accessory gearbox (weight), biofuel compatible, ... it starts to add up why the humble incumbents might not be a good fit, despite being good engines in their own right.

In fact nothing on the chopper is magical - it's all conventional stuff all seen before. Just slotted together in a form factor that is modern, fast and doesn't cost the farm. I don't think there's really that much technological risk to be honest. Most of the difficult stuff has been PoC demonstrated or built now, or has been done before in other industries and he's hired the talent to make it happen. He stated publicly he has spent ~10 of ~30 million pounds (or thereabouts). Doesn't seem like much that can stop this at this stage, which is reflected in the discounts in pre-orders reducing significantly.

There's an owners app with about 50x more info than is available publicly and weekly progress videos. It's all very interesting and personally I'm not fussed with needing to be patient and having to wait a few years - it's a new machine being designed & created from lumps of steel and dry cloth in one end, and helicopter out the other end. It's going to take time and there will be hiccups, but I think in the end crab will eat his hat, if he doesn't die of cynicism first (I'd rather be an optimist!). In the mean time, I'm enjoying hiring the 44 and loving all the video updates watching each part discussed in detail, and seeing it slowly morph into a real machine.



Stay cool ppruners - and remember it's okay to occasionally be optimistic.
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Old 19th Aug 2022, 15:23
  #502 (permalink)  
 
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Is it not the purpose of the experimental category of aircraft to be a proof of concept before continuing to full certification?

I know this is what has been stated regarding the progress from HX50 to HC50, but how does selling lots of the experimental ones sit within what is surely the intent of the process?

Is it intended to make each HX50 slightly different to pretend that it is a design evolving towards full certification and is this just the exploitation of a loophole in the regs?

What happens when the first one spanks in with respect to the preceding aircraft already built and flying if it turns out to be a technical failure?
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Old 19th Aug 2022, 17:55
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One reasonable avenue would be to bring the HC50 close enough to certification so a big player senses the threat and offers an appropriate amount of money to either bury it, or pursue the development on their own.
It worked for the Marenco SH09, so...
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Old 19th Aug 2022, 20:33
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Originally Posted by [email protected]
Is it not the purpose of the experimental category of aircraft to be a proof of concept before continuing to full certification?
? ...
It depends upon whose Experimental category you are talking about. Vans, and many others, in the US has sold thousands of kits into the American Experimental category.

The HX50 is not going to be in an 'Experimental' category in the UK or EASA-land, it will be an amateur built aircraft operated on a Permit to Fly.
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Old 19th Aug 2022, 23:26
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Whatever it's called in different regions (experimental, amateur built, ...) it's a fully viable option for private ownership which from my experience is superior to certified aircraft for private ops. It probably started a kind of a loophole 20 years ago, but it's been so thoroughly exploited now, there's no going back (most private ownership in Australia is now experimental - mostly Vans RV's, or RAAus ultralight). I would not buy a certified GA aircraft on the VH register unless I really needed it for a particular reason. Too much hassle. Experimental category is just so good, and if the aircraft is fairly conventional, there's zero (practical) operating restrictions applied. The big one being commercial work, hence the concurrent certification work to open up that market in the future. But all their marketing & design is based on the core use case being private.

Experimental/Amateur build production aircraft should not to be confused with the actual prototype aircraft (the first 1-3), which will have sensors everywhere and be used for actual flight test, etc. That's not what is being sold.
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Old 20th Aug 2022, 06:00
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There's a little more to designing and building a helicopter that won't kill you, than there is to an RV or similar.
Vans also didn't design their own avionics, nor engine.
Many amateur builders have also left holes in the ground, that might just come with the territory when cost is a primary driver.
Regions also have different rules on amateur builds, particularly when it comes out of a production facility so it will be interesting to see how this 51% self-build is viewed so it doesn't become a short-cut around certification.
The proof will be in the pudding, and until something leaps off paper and into the air it's all academic.



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Old 20th Aug 2022, 10:22
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If it is indeed a kit, then how much probability CAA or even for FAA to bend the rule for more than 2 seats? That was the original question that started 2-3 pages ago.
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Old 20th Aug 2022, 11:01
  #508 (permalink)  
 
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I understand that Hill has some sort of agreement with the CAA that the HX50 will be a 5 seat permit-to-fly aircraft, and the 51% "customer build" two-week course is really just a tick-box exercise as the CAA do not want people building their own helicopter. So in reality the 2 week course will be a fair bit of technical groundschool and observing proper engineers doing the "building"
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Old 20th Aug 2022, 12:29
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As i understand the idea of permit to fly and the 51% self build, it is because the owner is then responsible for the continuing airworthiness of the aircraft - on a simple FW that is pretty straightforward but on a 5-seat helicopter?

it will be interesting to see what the permit to fly says for these in terms of using those 5 seats.
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Old 21st Aug 2022, 09:21
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"It worked for the Marenco"....not sure it has!
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Old 21st Aug 2022, 14:02
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Originally Posted by heli1
"It worked for the Marenco"....not sure it has!
amen to this! I wonder how many Marenco deposit holders are also HX50 deposit holders!
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Old 21st Aug 2022, 14:24
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I get the feeling that a lot of the people who have paid the £40-£50k deposits for the HX50 won't ever decide to buy one. Some are just "speculators", others their circumstances would have changed since they paid the deposit (ie bought something else, or dont want a heli any more) and/or they will decide to "sell" their place in the production queue to someone else

I understand that Hill requires 45% payment for any aircraft a year before it is built, and the remaining 45% three months before delivery.
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Old 21st Aug 2022, 15:16
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Originally Posted by heli1
"It worked for the Marenco"....not sure it has!
I was refering to this
https://helicopters.leonardo.com/en/products/aw09
The AW09 is a next-generation, high performance, single-engine helicopter offering the built-in versatility to tackle multiple missions. Formerly known as SH09, it is developed by Swiss company, Kopter Group, acquired by Leonardo in 2020.
However I don't know what happened with the first deposits to Marenco.
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Old 22nd Aug 2022, 12:44
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Interesting to see that the accounts up to July 2021 (filed on or around 4th July 2022) for Hill Helicopters and 6 other various entities that were set up behind it. Not unusual for a company to have HoldCos and SubCos but a little odd that it took nearly 12 months to get their unaudited accounts signed off.

What did strike me is that in none of the entities that I looked at, are there a significant number of employees: Dr Hill and his wife are the only Directors, and one of the entities shows that there are three employees....including the Directors. Ergo all of the other people working are freelance or contractors.

If I was placing a deposit (which I am not), the first question I would ask is....what happens if Jason gets run over by a bus? I'd want to see him wrapped in cotton wool!
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Old 22nd Aug 2022, 13:19
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I wonder how much of the work is actually being done in-house.
Jason mentioned that he had 70 people under him(including contractors). Linkedin only has 15 for him directly.
this is interesting too:

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Old 22nd Aug 2022, 14:00
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Originally Posted by 206 jock
Interesting to see that the accounts up to July 2021 (filed on or around 4th July 2022) for Hill Helicopters and 6 other various entities that were set up behind it. Not unusual for a company to have HoldCos and SubCos but a little odd that it took nearly 12 months to get their unaudited accounts signed off.

What did strike me is that in none of the entities that I looked at, are there a significant number of employees: Dr Hill and his wife are the only Directors, and one of the entities shows that there are three employees....including the Directors. Ergo all of the other people working are freelance or contractors.

If I was placing a deposit (which I am not), the first question I would ask is....what happens if Jason gets run over by a bus? I'd want to see him wrapped in cotton wool!
That exact question was asked, and answered, in last week's presentation...

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Old 22nd Aug 2022, 16:55
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so.... in 2019 they published "Invitation to Tender- GT50 Gas Turbine Program – Mechanical Design "

And they went on to develop this engine themselves....
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Old 22nd Aug 2022, 19:17
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Hill's factory ambitions may have hit a bump in the road...

Dozens of residents have objected to plans for a helicopter factory in rural North Staffordshire. Hill Helicopters, set up to create luxury private aircraft, is seeking a manufacturing site and headquarters and has set its sights on land at Blythe Park in Cresswell.

Permission has already been granted for industrial, storage and residential development on the wider Sandon Road site. But the latest application, submitted to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, has received more than 65 objections so far.

Concerned residents include many living across the district border in Stafford Borough, who are worried about the potential impact on areas such as Fulford. They have also hit out at the consultation process.

Helen Smith, of Sandon Road, Cresswell, said: “I am deeply disappointed in the council and their communication on this matter, it’s a disgrace. Why has the application not been delivered through our doors?

“This will impact on residents who are so very close to the proposed area, changing the hamlet from a quiet place to a horror story for older residence and others alike. This will also impact on the wildlife; we have an abundance of rare birds and creatures (and) this will impact on their environment as well as local stables, livery and anyone who has livestock as the location is based in rural surroundings - test flights will terrify horses, cattle, sheep and wildlife.”

Ramzi and Jane Hashem, of Fulford Road, Fulford, said there had been insufficient public consultation. They added: “Although we do not live in Creswell, we will be similarly affected by this development where we live, less than two miles away.

“Creswell and the surrounding villages are quiet country/rural residential areas. With a manufacturing capacity of 250 units per year ultimately rising up to 1000 units per year, and each unit requiring up to 30 take offs/landing for testing and type rating, this equates to 20 to 80 take offs or landing per day, 365 days per year.

“Added to that there will be additional take offs/landings for service, customer arrivals and departures in their own craft and no doubt customer trials in demonstrator flights as they consider their potential purchase. The noise pollution generated by this level of activity will be little different to living in the vicinity of an airport.”

Carol Holdcroft, of Green Park, Fulford, said: “Cresswell is a small rural hamlet in the Staffordshire countryside, with approximately 140 dwellings. Staffordshire Moorlands DC has approved a further 157 dwellings.

“The proposal to build a helicopter manufacturing factory in close proximity to all these residences is clearly inappropriate. The fact that the proposal includes airfield provision for the testing and maintenance of helicopters, with attendant noise, vibration, and pollution renders the proposal absolutely unacceptable.

“The traffic problem in Cresswell has been acute for many years, and the additional commercial traffic generated by this proposal, together with the planned eventual parking for up to 490 cars would greatly worsen that situation. I am also concerned about the inherent dangers in the need to store large quantities of highly volatile aviation fuel.

“This proposal is an intolerable imposition on the local population and severely threatens their human rights to enjoy their properties in peace and safety. The local planning authority, Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, has a duty to protect the quality of life and safety of its residents.”

But there has been support for the plans too. Jennifer Walker, of Saverley Green said: “I very much look forward to seeing this innovative business extending to be based locally.

“As a helicopter family we know the pleasure we take from flying. I believe residents are worried about noise and also business of our roads and I’m sure Hills will take all of this into consideration and think about noise abatement and operating hours.

“Our residents need to consider the increase in local revenue and the employment opportunities that will arise. I for one, will be for this application and look forward to seeing the end product flying high in our local area.”
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Old 22nd Aug 2022, 19:39
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To anyone that knows the British planning system, that reads pretty well! 😂. My brother in law had more trouble building a single story extension! 😜
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Old 23rd Aug 2022, 06:18
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Originally Posted by Nige321
That exact question was asked, and answered, in last week's presentation...
Great! Did someone also ask 'what happens if you disappear to somewhere without an extradition treaty with the UK with all of our deposit cash?'
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