Fulfilling founder Jason Hill’s lifelong passion, Hill Helicopters combines cutting-edge technology with elegant design to revolutionise the world of helicopter travel
“Ever since I was a child, I have been infatuated by helicopters,” says Jason Hill, helicopter pilot, design engineer and chairman at Hill Helicopters, the company he founded in 2020. Having followed his dream, Jason has been flying helicopters for more than two decades, at one point working three different jobs to pay for flying lessons. During a successful career in aviation, he became convinced that customers were underserved by what was available on the private helicopter market, so founded Hill Helicopters to manufacture the pioneering HX50. Graceful and futuristic, HX50 will revolutionise what Jason feels is a moribund industry – one that no longer offers the inspiring spark of desire and escapism that drew him to helicopters in the first place.
“Existing products were crude, utilitarian machines, seemingly trapped in the ’70s and ’80s,” says Jason. “Flying was no longer aspirational or attainable to the very people it had traditionally served. HX50 is my solution to this problem. It’s an expression of what general aviation and private flying should be: aspirational, exciting and rewarding – genuinely providing first-class, point-to-point private air transport as and when you need it.”
Jason wants to pack half a century of improvements into the beautiful frame of the HX50. Like a luxury car that is designed to be admired as much as outperform competitors, the HX50 looks sensational while delivering exceptional performance and unrivalled value for money. It can carry five passengers comfortably at 160mph for three hours with minimal noise. Most importantly, every element is designed and built by Hill Helicopters in the UK, including the unique GT50 engine. This gives Hill Helicopter complete control over the costs and the production schedule, with raw materials going in at one end and the completed aircraft coming out the other.
“Gears, bearings, composite and specialist superalloy castings for the gas turbine engine are all made in-house,” says Jason. “This provides an easy route to scale up production as we have not only developed the aircraft, but also the manufacturing processes for each part. By cutting out the middlemen, we are able to hit an unprecedented price point while still making strong margins. What’s more, we have developed capability in engine manufacturing, composites, transmission and avionics.”
Chief designer Henry Morshead was asked to fuse automotive and aeronautical workflows, sculpting a timeless form around aerodynamic imperatives. This provides a simplicity and elegance to the exterior that is reflected inside, where the pilot sits in a comfortable, stylish cockpit made from the highest quality materials. This is another example of how the HX50 has modernised helicopter travel, with a simple and intuitive digital interface that makes flying an HX50 as simple as driving a car.
Customers – including pilots Mischa Gelb, Peter Wilson and Steve Brooks, each of whom has set world records for crossing the globe by helicopter – have been kept updated on progress through regular livestream briefings and Q&A sessions, with the first prototype due to fly in 2023. Manufacturing will follow at a purpose-built state-of-the-art production facility that will be capable of producing 1,000 aircraft per year. “Our business can go far beyond HX50 to bigger and more complex helicopters and even fixed-wing aircraft,” says Jason. “And indeed we will. We have completely reinvented what a helicopter can be: a safe, beautiful, fast, luxurious and simple way to travel, with a level of convenience, comfort and exclusivity that is simply unmatched.”