Hill Says Turbine Engine for HX50 To Cost Under $100k

 - February 6, 2023, 9:34 AM
Hill Helicopters says the unit cost of its GT50 turbine engine will be less than $100,000. (Photo: Hill Helicopters)

Hill Helicopters CEO Jason Hill claims his company can build its GT50 turbine engine for less than $100,000 each. Hill called available engines “unreasonably expensive,” giving his company “no choice” but to “think bigger” for its HX50 helicopter, he told AIN.

While the GT50 traces its origin in an industrial engine to provide “low development risk,” the design has been modified for the helicopter. Hill replaced the three-chamber combustor with an annular combustor to improve the size of the package and reduce weight. It also swapped the two-stage turbine with a single-stage model that is slightly higher loaded and optimized the secondary air system to improve cooling. 

Referencing the engine, Hill said his team began with performance targets, including the ability to carry five 210-pound passengers and their luggage, cruise for three hours, and hover out-of-ground effect at 10,000 feet msl at ISA+15. “That set the parameters for the engine,” Hill said, adding he aims for the GT50 to produce 400-shp max continuous, 440-shp for five minutes, and 500-shp for 30 seconds. That power provides enough margin to get pilots “out of trouble,” he said. 

Hill is building parts for the first engine now and plans to build “three or four” more engines in the course of bench testing before it finds its way onto the HX50, which is expected to make its first flight later this year. Hill said he thinks he can get individual engine cost below $100,000 “easily” based on a run rate of 500 helicopters a year, the company’s ultimate production goal.