HX50 Monthly Update & AMA - 12 October 2023

HX50 Monthly Update & AMA - 12 October 2023

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Welcome back, everybody to October's AMA. Ruben, it's going to be an amazing   time tonight. Lots of amazing things  happening at the DC 1, 2 and 3. We're going to see a full program update  from across the board. Just looking at   the chat here. Again, as always, we have  people from all over the world connecting,   you know, on average we have more than 2000  people connecting to each one of these AMAs.

It's really incredible to see how this network is  really growing worldwide for the interest, for the   HX50. Action packed evening tonight for everybody  here. Ruben, why don't you tell us what we're in for? That's right, one more and getting very close  to the finish line of that first aircraft going to   be seen on stage on the 6th of December. And today's program is going to be as usual, an update,   a very rich and packed information from Jason for  about an hour or so, probably a little bit less. And then we're going to enter the AMA,  which is something unique of the Hill   program. We open up for questions  from anybody, you can ask anything.

We put them in sequence. So start putting  those questions as the presentation goes   and we'll go one by one at the end right after  the update that we will be hearing from Jason. So with no further delay, let's then  give it all the time for Jason. Welcome, Jason.

Go ahead and you can start  your, once more, wonderful update. Thanks Ruben. Thanks Mischa. And welcome   to everybody from around the  world this evening to DC One. We've got a packed program for you this evening  covering the airframe, the engine, the drivetrain,   avionics, electrical systems, and an update  from across the production facility and our   plans for our growing production facility into  series production. Let's start with an update   on the build of fuselage six and seven. As  I explained last time, these are fuselages   that are very much a culmination of everything  that we've developed in the program to date.

All of the improvements and enhancements that  we've developed to the manufacturability,   the processes and the core design  are embedded into both of these   fuselages. They include the brow line  modification for improved view angle,   they include the exterior lighting integration for  our developed lighting clusters. They include the   carbon fiber bulkhead integration and all of the  mechanical components that need to be embedded   in the fuselages to receive the undercarriage  systems and of course, the cabin door systems. In addition to that, we've been working through  the development of the first two structurally   representative tail booms, though these are  tail booms that include all of the features   that they need to attach structurally to the  monolarge, all of the features to attach the   drivetrain and all of the mechanical components  and a representative laminate as well. So all of  

those things are in there and we'll be heading  down to DC Two to have a look at these in just a second. We've also been extensively developing  the new versions of all of the cabin doors. So these are the cabin doors that use  the bonded assembly. So both area tooled   exterior skin, a tooled interior skin,  trapping all of the door furniture and   bringing those together in a much more  production orientated process. I'll be   giving you a significant update  on those directly from DC Two.

So, without just looking at slides, let's  head down to DC Two and DC Three now and   I'll show you what we've been doing over  the course of the last month or so. So, welcome to DC Two. And at the moment  down here, it's doors, doors, doors. The guys are furiously laminating the doors  for the front of the fuselage, the rear of   the fuselage and the cargo doors. There's twelve  to do in total for the two airframes that we're  

building at the moment. Let's go and have  a look at what they're actually building. So, our method for producing doors, as  we've discussed, is two tool skins. So   an outer skin and then an inner B surface skin  that carries all of the detail for the locking   mechanism and the internal trim door card.  We work on model board tools at the moment. What you can see the guys doing here, this  is the front copilot's door outer skin. So   the first plies are down. We're just putting  in the receiver for the swandle handles here.

There'll be plies laminated over the top of  that, and then this can be bagged and cured   in the oven. This is an out of autoclave prepreg  system that we're using for these particular parts   to make it easier to get the metallic inserts  in. If we move over to this station over here,   we've got a similar operation here, but  this time it's a rear passenger side door.

The first plies are down, the door  handles, metallics are in there,   and the guys are just laminating over the  top to trap and bond the metallic inserts   into the fabric of the door. Again, you can  see the modification that we've introduced   here where we've built in the notch to  receive the signature lighting strip that   we've got built into each of these doors.  There's a further pilot's door skin here. So this is a front door, pilot's door,  outer door skin that's being laminated.   And that should be ready for curing  later on tomorrow. If we go down here,   you can see the B surface, not the B surface,  the internal skin of the baggage bay door.

So you can see the internal skins tend to  be much more intricate because these are   the skins that form the depth of the structural  sections that give the door its stiffness and   provide the pockets for the hinges and the  locking mechanism and everything else that   you need to make these doors work. So once these  panels are cured off, they go into a glue jig,   they're glued together and then they can be  trimmed and fitted to the airframe using the   hinges and the other mechanical components that  have been developed up at DC One. The only other   things that we've got going on here at the  moment is we've got another B surface here. This one's a little bit further on. It's under  vacuum bag, being devault, ready to cure shortly. If we go and have a quick look what we've got  going on in the oven. Excuse the darkness.

What we've got in here, we've just shown  you the internal surfaces for the  cargo doors. What you've got   here is a left hand and right hand  external skin for the cargo doors on   both sides of the airframe. They're all  bagged, under vacuum and ready to cure. We get a full oven load of components in here this  evening and then this will be curing. Right now,   while I'm talking to you guys, let's have a  quick look at what's on the Gantry mill. So, as you can see here, we've also got  other tools here waiting to be laminated.

So we've got rear door B surfaces for port and  starboard. We've got the rear cabin bulkhead,   so that's your baggage bay bulkhead  there. And then what we've got here, this is the copilot's door inner skin. So this is the last of the door tools that  we need to make to be able to produce the final door for the HX50 fuselages. One thing you  might notice is that the one side of the table on  

the Gantry mill is inoperative at the moment.  We're having more issues with this machine and   I'll talk about what we're going to do about  that a little bit later in the presentation. Let's go over to DC Three and  have a look at some fuselages.   Welcome to DC Three. And this is where  things are getting really exciting. So we focus on laminating and component production  over at DC Two. Here in DC Three, the guys are  

doing a lot of the gap and flush and fit and  finish and working on the full airframe. This is airframe six that's just come back from its first layer of surface treatment and paint production. What you can see here is we've now got the  updated brow line into this fuselage and   fully worked in, the exterior has been prepped  from a surface point of view so it's ready to   be painted. You'll also see with this  one that a lot of the metallic elements   of the structure that are required to  mount the undercarriage are in there, also. So you can see the undercarriage  mounting pads down in the stub wings. You can see the receptacles for the undercarriage  locking struts. And then we've also got all of  

the metallics up in the roof to pick  up the gearbox. And then, of course,   all of the metallics down in the tailboom to  pick up the structural loads from the tailboom. The fuselage has been fully trimmed, so all of  the apertures have been trimmed back to size.

On these prototype airframes, we're doing that  by hand using the trim lines that we've built   into the tools and patterns. In production, this will be robot trimmed using a bigger   version of our robot that we'll show  you down at DC One a little bit later. So in addition to this, the other things that  we've been doing is essentially making sure that   we've resolved all of the edges properly so that  when we come to fit the doors, that we've got nice   clean gap and flush. Similarly, we've been tidying  up the edges up for the glazing, where the glazing   fits up on top as well. You'll notice here that  we've got a test cabin baggage bay door skin here.

So this is an outer skin. You saw the inner skins  being produced over in DC Two that's been trimmed   and is up there just to dress it and get it ready  to be fitted with its B surface. You'll also see   for the very first time that we've got the non  structural wing covers on the airframe as well. So you're all used to seeing the airframes,  just the structural elements of the airframe,   which is the painted part of it here. This  is the wingtip cuff that makes up the rest   of the A surface that you're used to  seeing in the renders. And then this  

is the recess that provides for the  landing light or the wingtip element   of the landing light that I'll show you a  little bit later in the presentation. So, really pleased with how all of this is  coming on. It's looking absolutely great.    The sort of fit and finish of these components has  really exceeded my expectations, particularly   given the challenges of working with very  hastily produced prototype patterns and moulds.

But the guys have worked wonders on  getting this all to sit together right,   so I'm really excited to see the rest of  this come together and to get it painted   up and finished. In addition to the external  fitting, so the wingtip covers, the doors,   we've also got structural internal components.  So this is the carbon rear cabin bulkhead. So this fits inside the fuselage at about  this point here. This big aperture that's  

moulded in it is physically so that we can get  the bladder fuel tank into the cavity between   the cabin rear bulkhead and the baggage bay  bulkhead. And this fits snugly inside of there. It's been dry fitted. It fits just  fine, which is good news. So we've   got two of these waiting to go into  the fuselages as we assemble them. That's all good. I showed you over the road that   we're busy laminating doors. This is a B  surface for one of the rear cabin doors. So, again, it's an extremely light piece  of structure. But all of this integrated  

form provides the structure that we need to carry  the armrest loads and to pick up all the locking   mechanism details as well. So really pleased with  how the guys are getting on with the door skins. They're coming together. They're  coming together very nicely. If we just go around and have a look on the  other side of the fuselage for a moment,   what you'll see is we've also just offered  up the very first trimmed B surface.

So this is the rear starboard side  door, and that fits just nicely.   So the overall form of it's fine.  We've got to get that bonded up now. Well skin pinned with its A surface.  That'll take account of the pushback   from the seals once we get those fitted,  and then that door can be hung and will sit   really nicely on the fuselage. So really  pleased with how that's coming together.

Let's go and have a look at what we're doing  with tailbooms.   So this is the second structural  tailboom that we've produced, and this is the  one that's had the most prep work done on it   to date. So, as I mentioned earlier, all of these  composite components that we're showing you at the   moment have been manufactured with prototype  tools that were very hastily put together. They were all about process development and not  about getting the most perfect surface finish. So  

in order to get these paint ready, the guys have  had to do a lot more patchwork, a lot more filling   and sanding than you would do in production. What  you can see here is the structural element of the   tailboom, the tailboom cover, that covers the  drive shaft as it goes down into the tailboom. And what you'll see here for the very  first time is the second side of the   tailboom. So the construction of this is  this whole structure is made in one piece,   with the exception of this top closure on  the exit side of the duct, that allows us   to trap all of the internal fixtures for  the stator for the ducted fan assembly. So this panel has been trimmed and bonded on  today. And then, of course, the final stage  

is to fit the bumper panel on the bottom. We've  also made the modification down here to take the   modified tail light, which I'll be showing  you a little bit later in the presentation. If we just have a look at what we've got  here. This is the second structural tail   boom that will be going on fuselage  seven. This is currently untrimmed.

The guys are just starting to prep this for  paint at the moment. But while we've got it here,   you can see essentially the frangible or  disposable bumper that sits on the bottom   of the tailboom down there. So where you see  the A surface braking there, that's so that we   can put an energy absorbing bumper to protect  the tail, to protect the tail assembly, and   ultimately to protect the helicopter if you have  a little indiscretion while you're trying to land.

So from across the board down here, the guys are  making fantastic progress on all of the composite   elements of the program. We've got fuselage seven  out to paint at the moment and then we've got a   bunch more fitting to get the tails integrated  and then all we've really got left to make in   terms of the composites are the last of the doors  and the non structural elements that sit on the   top of the fuselage. So fantastic progress from  across the program over the course of last month. Let's head up back to DC One. So in addition to  the work on the core fuselage, we've also been   doing a lot of work on the first set of prototype  skids that will be sitting on fuselage seven. So essentially, these are skids that  are structurally and kinematically   representative of the skids that we'll use  in the flying prototypes. The only difference   being there's a little bit more weight to come  out of these things before they're ready to go   flying. We've come up with a very practical  and cost effective structural design which is  

a hybrid of both a conventional metal tube  structure that couples very nicely back to   the dampers that we need in the fuselage with a  cladding to deliver the sleek look of the skids. The metal tube structure is currently  about halfway through being produced and   we've just finished the moulds to be able  to mould the composite cladding that goes   around the legs and the down tubes. We've  also been developing all of the mechanical   components that are used at the top end  of the skids to fit those back into the   fuselage structure. And there's actually  on the five axis over there the last of   the receptor couplings that connect to the  metallics that are buried into the structure. So, really pleased to see those  coming along. I know there's a   lot of guys out there that are keen to  see how we're doing with skids. So just  

a little update that they're coming and  they're going to be ready for December. In addition to that, one of the things  that is most distinctive about the HX50   is the cowled rotor system and the very  carefully aerodynamically cowled pylon   and mast. This is a particularly  difficult area to do well because   of the movement that you have to allow  around the root of the rotor blades. And  

it's also really important that we deliver  on the aesthetic promises of the design. I'm pleased to say that we've delivered this in  spades. I'm absolutely over the moon with how   this has come out in final design. The production  tooling for all of this is currently underway. At the moment, the guys are busily finishing the  last of the tools to develop all of that cabin   top structure, both the cowls that surround the  engine and all of the plans and equipment that   lives on the top of the fuselage and also  the donut cowling that surrounds the main   rotor hub. We expect the part production  of those to start in around two weeks time   and those will be the last components that  we need to make for the two machines that   we'll be displaying in December. So, really  pleased to see all of that coming together. In addition to that, we've been talking  at length over the last few months   about our endeavors to deliver high optical  clarity, high quality crash worthy windows,   or crashworthy glazing for HX50. We've  been doing a lot of development over the  

course of the last month or two to improve  the quality of the tooling that we use to   be able to deliver optical clarity. It's  relatively easy to form these materials. It's quite difficult to form them really,  really well, particularly when you move to   polycarbonate for the impact resistant  windows on the front. We've completed   all of the rework to the tooling that takes  into account both the shift in the brow line,   but also the surface rework that we've  needed to do to deliver a surface that's   capable of producing optically clear windows.  We've optimized all of the forming processes   necessary to deliver high quality windows,  and then we've now started to produce the   full batch of glazing that we're using for the  two machines that we're delivering in December. So, fundamentally, all of the roof windows  and the side windows are now at a level that   we're satisfied with for production. We've got a  couple of issues left to sort on the chin windows,  

but fundamentally, we're satisfied  now that we can produce high quality   glazing for the aircraft in house.  Let's go and have a look at a couple   of the examples that we've got lying  on the shop floor over here at DC One. So what you can see here is the first of  the vacuum formed chin windows that's been   developed using the latest tooling. So all  of these areas here are excess material that  

will just be trimmed off. And the actual  chin window, so this sits under the nose   of the helicopter, is this portion here, and  the trim line sits about an inch inside this. So these are now being produced to a  quality that's sufficient from an optical   and a performance point of view. There's a few  things that will refine for series production,   but these are plenty good enough for  where we need to be at the moment.   These are the most difficult windows on  the whole aircraft to produce because they   have curvature in both directions,  and it hugs the tool very closely. So until you're using heated aluminium  tools that are highly polished,   this poses real challenges for the composite  tools and the model board tools that we're   using at the moment to keep the cost down  while we're going through the development   process. What you can see behind me here is  the forward roof window, and this one is a  

lot simpler to form to a high degree of optical  clarity on account of the fact that it's a lot   flatter and a lot simpler curvature. So  we've got all of these produced now, and   we're expecting to get these units trimmed over  the course of the next week on the Gantry mill,   and then they can be dry fitted on the fuselage,  ready for the rest of the panels to butt up to. So, really pleased with how the Glazing  is coming on.   One of the areas that we  always knew was going to be challenging  was painting these early fuselages.  So, as I've said on multiple occasions, the tooling  that we developed for the early stage prototypes   for HX50 was very much about bringing together  all of the elements from different industries   that were necessary to make cost effective  composites at this scale and in these volumes.

What that has meant is that that was very  much an expedited process. It was all about   the process development and not the finished  surface quality. So the surface on the tools   that we've been working with to date isn't at  the same level that it will be in production. And what that means is, unfortunately, the paint  guys have an even harder job to do to get a   decent paint finish on these things for the first  fuselages. So, over the course of the last week,  

fuselage six has been out at the paint shop  and the guys have been doing all of the surface   preparation and the priming and the surface  rectification to get that fuselage up to the   point where it's a high quality paintable  surface. And they've done an amazing job. Now, don't worry about any of these  details because fundamentally,   all of this comes from the tools. And with the  new Gantry mill that will be arriving in January,   and the refined production processes for  patterns and tools, all of these things   come straight out of the mould for production.  But over the course of the last week or so,   fuselage six has had its first well, several  coats of primer and a lot of surface work.

And fuselage seven is out at the paint  shop right now getting ready to receive   its final color. So, really pleased  with how that's gone over the course   of the week. Let's talk about the  engine program for a little while. Over the course of the last month, as you're  aware, our main focus has been about preparing   to do the combustion system testing. So  we finalized the design of the combustion,   the core combustion test rig elements. All of those things are now either here or in production, at the moment. We have essentially produced  now all of the fuel nozles and the airblast   atomizers. We have the ignition system  here. We've also been doing some further  

work on blade casting, and I've got  some good news to report on that. And we've been starting the journey on the  casting of the big thin walled casings, which is   one of the other challenging areas with the engine  development. We're now converging on the finished   combustor, annular combustor itself. And I'll be  showing you a little bit more of that in a second. So as I mentioned, a lot of the work over  the course of the last month has been about   refining the combustion test rig and getting all  of the additional equipment you need beyond the   engine hardware to run a successful test. The  guys have been efforting that over the course   of the last few weeks. The objectives,  of course, being to show that we can get   effective ignition, stable combustion within  the environment, and get that fire burning.

All of those components are now in manufacture  and these will all be here before the end of the   month. One of the things that we are doing for  the combustion test is using rapid prototyping   as an analogy for the casting processes for  the casings, just to give us the flexibility   to change anything that we need to before we go on  to the full blown gas generator test. Everything else that you can see in the combustion  test is being made right here at DC One.

So if we talk for a second  about the annular combustor,   we've now perfected the rolling process.  We've perfected the stretching process to   produce these annular rings perfectly to  tolerance. And we're now building up the   stack of internal and external rings  ready to get that welded together.

And I shall show you that in just a second.  We've had some issues with spinning the end cap,   so if you think of the end of the doughnut  on the annular combustor and so the guys have   been machining some of those components  from solid rather than spinning those, in the short instance. In production,  those parts will actually be pressed. But I'm loathed to lay down a  press tool until we know we've   got the geometry right. So Mark's  been working around that for us.   And I'll show you some of the components  that we've been making in just a second. The other big news is that over  the course of the last few weeks,   we've been doing a lot of NDT and a lot of  inspection on our in house cast super alloy   turbine plates for both the gas generator and  also the power turbine. And I'm delighted to  

report that we have now concluded that work.  And we've passed all the inspection criteria. So Hill Helicopters can now cast inexpensive  superalloy turbine blades in house,   and we're doing so ready for the test  engine. So really, really pleased with that. The scanning electron microscope  results were just what we were expecting.

We've got a little bit of process optimization  to do, which I'll show you in just a second,   and then we're ready to invest in the  casting infrastructure to enable us to   do that in volume as we go into production.  The final innovative step in the casting   journey is to be able to cast the large  casings that we need for both the engine   and ultimately some of the aluminium casings  we need for the aircraft gearboxes as well.   The challenge with these casings is  that they are extremely complicated. They're quite big and they have very,  very thin walls. And what that means  

is it's actually difficult to get the molten  metal to flow through those cavities without   solidifying too quickly and blocking the  cavities before you've cast the part. So,   we've been developing with our  casting partners, some very,   very clever processes to enable us to do  that for the types of parts that we need. That work is ongoing at the moment and we'll be  travelling out to Germany over the course of the   next month or so to finalize that step, once  we've finalized that step. That is literally   the last part of process development that we  need to do to make this engine. This isn't  

something that's holding us up for the prototype  engine because, as I said, presently we're using   rapid prototype parts for the casting, which  is a perfectly representative process to do. So, let's go and have a look at some of these  details on the engine. So, as you're aware, we've been casting both power turbine blades  and gas generator blades using trees.  So, part of the process development  that we've been doing is looking   at the different performance of  block moulding and shell moulding.

And we've now got specimens back from the test  lab that have used both block moulding and also   shell moulding. The benefit of block moulding to  us is that it's a substantially cheaper process,   it's much faster to execute, and the equipment  we need to do that is far less expensive. To   facilitate all of that, we've been doing  a lot of development in the process for   making the wax trees that you need to be able  to hang a load of these turbine blade waxes and   create a cavity that allows you to create  multiple turbine blades in a single shot. So we've produced some tooling that essentially  allows us, essentially allows us to cast a   wax sprue onto which we can then weld the  individual turbine blades, drop that into   the block moulding slurry and then melt this  out. And we've got our casting void. What you   can see here is the very first hill produced  block moulded gas generator turbine blades. And here we have the analysis report that  shows that they can form geometrically.  

And then on top of that, we also have  the metallurgical report back now that   shows that the metallurgy is right, the crystal  structure is right. We're making good blades. These have now got to go off and be  hot isostatically pressed to make   sure we close off any voids x rayed,  and then these can be ground and are   ready to go into an engine. So really  pleased with how that's coming together. We've also done the same for the process with  shells so that we can compare the metallurgical   properties and the mechanical properties  to see if there's any advantage to us in   sticking to the older ways. I don't expect  that there will be for the turbine blades,   I think the process gives us much more control,  doing it with this slightly more modern approach. So really pleased with how that's going.  If we move on to the combustion system now,  

you've seen over the period of the last  few months, we've been laser cutting and   rolling and forming and profiling the rings  to make up the annular combustor. And we've   now got this process to a point where  we're making these things to tolerance. And what you can see here is a couple  of the I've just pulled these off the   workshelf over there. This is the size  of your annular combustor. These are   conforming outer rings, conforming inner rings. These get grown up to about this height,  capped off. There's a bird mouth in the   center that feeds into the gas generator  turbine nozle. And then we're good to go.

And the way these things work. The reason why  these profiles are so important is if you look   at the subtle gap at the top here, the void that's  created by this change in profile, that's the area   that when we drill holes on the back of this lip,  feeds cooling air down both the outside and the   inside of these thin sheet metal pieces to be able  to put a blanket of cooling compressor delivery   air over the metal to keep the metal temperatures  down to a level that they can survive. So the geometry of that is really, really  important. It's fiddly stuff to do and   we've cracked it. So the first combustor  is well on its way to being completed now.

And as we get to the end of the month,  this thing will be built up and welded,   ready to go into the test rig. If we just to  have a look at some of the other components   that we've been producing, that component  that sits round the end of this combustor   can will actually be pressed. There'll  be a sort of doughnut annular tool thump. You press it out of sheet metal and away  you go. Quite simple. Those press tools   are quite expensive for this sort of material.

So what we've been doing is trying to spin those,   which hasn't really worked very well. So  we've made a simple tool and then Mark and   the guys have just been essentially making  some machined inserts that can be welded in,   that will receive the air blast atomizer. So what you've got there is the swirler nozle. So that's the back face of the combustor  here. The swirler nozle goes through there. And inside that swirler  nozle, we have a fuel injector   with integrated last chance filter that  sits just inside that assembly there. And what you've got here is a small fuel  nozle. And out of this void comes swirling air   that smashes the atomized fuel into tiny, tiny  particles that give you nice clean combustion,   which is both highly efficient and minimizes  the amount of sooting that we get in the   engine and ultimately down your tailboom.  So really pleased with how that's coming on.

And then the other piece of the puzzle that's  dropped in recently is we've taken delivery of the   first few igniters that fit in the bottom of the  combustion chamber to get the fire started. So,   really pleased with how the combustion  rig is coming together. And like I say,   we should have all of these bits on hand  and ready to assemble within this month.

So we'll get that test done just as  soon as we can. Let's head back.   So, let's talk about the drivetrain and  gearbox production for a second. So, as you're aware, we built the  first HX50 gearbox about 12-18 months   ago as essentially a lubrication test rig,  proving that we could get lubrication into   the bearings and the oils, to drive the  gearbox at the powers that we want to,   to have the life that we want to and to ensure  that the gearbox can run dry as required by the   certification requirements. Since that gearbox  was built, we've made a bunch of modifications   to the gear design, to the lubrication  strategy, and also to the mast design.

So what we're doing at the moment,  we've got that gearbox stripped,   and we're fitting the new mast with the rotor hub  assembly on the top of it into the gearbox.   And we're also producing new casings for the two  additional gearboxes that we're producing for   the two aircraft to be displayed in December.  So, really pleased with how that's coming on. Let's just go over and I'll show you some of the  bits that we're producing right at the moment. So, what you can see here is these are some  of the strip components from the original   gearbox. This is the new sprag clutch  that I showed you a month or so ago. You've got your planetary set and your  spiral bevel set. That is the first stage  

into the gearbox. And here is the very  first 2nd generation rotomast for HX50. So this has got the latest spline detail,  the latest connection detail to get the   rotomast connected into the transmission.  And all of this new stuff that you can see   at the top is the very first components that  we've produced for the HX50 rotor system. So   you've got the upper and lower clamping plates  that are splined onto the main rotor shaft. And just so that you can understand where  it goes, essentially, they clamp the strap   packs that provide your flapping and also your  feathering motion for the rotor system. So, all of   that's coming together very nicely. What you can  see down here on the bench is we've essentially  

got the upper casings for three additional  gearboxes that we're producing at the moment. We're partway through machining the planet  carriers for two of those gearboxes,   and we've got the remaining two rotor  masts there just waiting for the final   couple of operations to receive the rotor  head on top. So really pleased with what   the guys are doing on transmissions.  That's all coming together very nicely. Just in the nick of time. So one of the things  that's been particularly exciting over the last   couple of weeks is that we're now deep into  building the very first HX50 rotor system.   The upper and lower hub parts have been produced,  as I've just shown you over on the bench.

These are the components being  machined on the five axis.   And we've currently just finished this afternoon,   the very first HX50 blade cuff. So this is the  part that receives the composite rotor blade. It houses the elastomeric lag damper,  it connects to the strap pack that   facilitates all the blade motions,  it's aerodynamically designed,   and it also connects to all of your blade  fold features as well. So we're really,  

really pleased with how these have come out.  Let's go and have a look at that on the five   axis so you can have a look at what we've  been doing to deliver these key components. So, this is the second five axis machine  that we added recently. And here is the  

very first HX50 blade cuff. Blade cuff number one. So this is a part of the blade so that the  rotor blade route connects here. The lag damper lives inside here, the strap pack  lives in here. Your pitch control rods,   or your pitcher, your rod ends attach  on this lug down at the bottom here. And then the aerodynamic cowling that works  into the rotor system fits up against these   components here. So that's the very first one  that we've ever produced. And what you can see  

right here is the next eight that have had  their internal machining ops done that are   just waiting for their turn on the five  axis to be turned into rotor components. So, really pleased with how  that's coming. Let's talk   for a second about the swash plate  assembly. So, some more fun stuff. One of the other things that we've been building  recently is the swash plate assembly and all of   the flight controls that sit just below the  rotor hub. So what you can see in that inset  

figure there is the strap packs at the  top. And then you've got your rotating   and non rotating swash plates, your spherical  bearing in the centre, and your pitch roll and   collective jack rods - jack beam, sorry - that  are mounted on top of the main rotor gearbox. All of those components have now been completed  and they're sat on Craig's bench awaiting build.   So let's just go and have a quick look  at the build of the very first well,   not the very first, actually, the first  three HX50 swash plate assemblies.  

So, what you can see here is the assembly  drawings for the whole system. So you've got the spherical bearing, the  swash plate assembly, and all of the detail   that the guys build to. Over here, you've  got the collective jack beam. So this is   the beam that lifts the whole swash plate  system up and provides collective pitch. And then you've got the pitch and  roll jack beams as well. So your   cyclic is connected to these two and  your collective is connected to this fellow.

And then over here we've got  the first three swash plate assemblies. So fixed swash plate assembly at the bottom  and then the rotating assembly at the top.   And the only thing that we're waiting for  at the moment is this fellow that I did   show in one of the customer updates that we've  actually machined these. They've all been made,   but they're out at the moment being  anodized and then PTFE coated. So that we've got the lubrication  for the spherical bearing.  

And then those three assemblies, two for the  aircraft and one for a static test rig,   have been built. And then what you can see here is  it's yet to be completed, but the mechanical and   the part of the elastomeric part of the lag  damper that's buried inside the blade cuff. So really excited to see this stuff coming  together. It's a really exciting time to be   around here at DC One.

So one of the areas that  we talked extensively about in the early days,   but we haven't talked about much  since, is our ducted fan tail rotor. So we're designing the tail rotor on HX50 to have  a great deal of authority even up at hot and high   altitudes. We've got eight asymmetrically  spaced blades, a very deep duct, and then   linearized characteristics through the way that  we've done the control rigging, we've updated the   aerodynamic design. The aerodynamic design was  done a long time ago, but it had been a little   while before we could get capacity onto it to get  the mechanical design updated in the aircraft.

That's now done in terms of the blades,  the pitch change mechanism, and the   overall housings and blade retention. We've got  a little bit of work to do left on the gearbox,   but essentially that's now updated and also being  produced right now at the moment. What the guys are   doing down at DC Two. And you could see it in  the images I showed you during the walk around.

You can see it on that slide there is  we've developed all of the tooling and   the jigging necessary to be able to  drill off and provide the fixtures   for the stator into tail booms two  and three that are down there at the   moment. So the guys are providing all the  provisions at the moment to get that tail   assembly into the duct of the two aircraft.  So really pleased with how that's going on. The performance of the tail rotor  is incredible. We still maintain   directional control with 35 knots of wind from  any direction, even up at 10,000ft. So barring  

any nasty surprises on test, we should  have an awesomely powerful tail rotor. And the only thing we've really got left to  do that on that is a minor gearbox Tweak,   which will be picked up early in the new  year. So really pleased to see the tail   rotor coming together. The other thing that's  gone on over the course of the last week is,  

obviously as we get closer to flight test  and we get deeper into our approvals process,   we're having increasingly regular meetings  and engagement with the regulators. Over the course of the last week, we've had  a very successful visit from the engine and   transmission specialist at the CAA. We've been  going through our test and certification strategy   and some of the detailed elements of the test  and certification plan for the engine and the   drivetrain elements. Because all of those  elements are going to be the first things that we need to do in order to make sure that  we've got enough hours on those things on the   bench to be able to safely derisk the flight  testing. So the meeting went extremely well.   The guys were very impressed with where  we're up to and what we've got done. And our new lead of engine and  transmission certification performed   extremely well. So we're in safe hands.  The approvals process is going as well  

as can be hoped for where we are in the  program, so really pleased with that. The guys were also delighted with the capability  that we've developed here at DC One for bearings,   gears and the other critical components  in the engine and drivetrain. So, a very successful visit, full stop.

Let's talk about the digicokpit for a second. I teased a little bit last month that  we've been doing a lot of work on the IPI. We've now developed through a  great deal of detail on the IPI.  

So this is the Integrated Pilot Interface that  distills the big stack of black boxes you've   got in the centre of your cockpit  into one single seven inch screen. The user interface development of that has been  refined and optimized. Now the menu structure   for that has been developed and Eric is busily  implementing that into the software environment,   ready to be loaded on board the aircraft.  We've got a much simpler menu structure,   a nice simple homepage with  a very shallow structure. It's much easier to interact with the puck,  it's a cleaner look. And then we've got an   accessible toolbar at the bottom that gives  you one click access to pretty much anything   that you could want to do with the IPI.  It's still very much work in progress,  

as these things often are, but you'll  get to play with this at the event   in December and make your own mind up  whether we've done a good job or not. I think the guys have done an incredible  job, myself. We've also been doing some   more work on the MFD. So this is the second  screen on the copilot side of the aircraft. You've obviously got video feeds available to  you on that screen. You can have a duplicate  

set of flight instruments on that  screen. But one of the things that   we're developing for that screen at the  moment is a user interface that's much   more usable by a non flying customer  and also a very large traffic scope. So these are very much work in progress ideas  at the moment. So if any of the customers have   got any thoughts or ideas about that, please do  feed it back. But in that particular setup on   the screen that we've got there, we've got salient  information at the top for non flying passengers. You've got a big cover flow media  center on the left hand side and   a big traffic scope available to  the pilot. Nice, big and bold. So,  

again, work in progress, but we're  pleased with how that's coming. And don't forget, we'll be feeding video  images as a background to that as well.   One of the other areas that's really  taking shape now is the very first IPI.

So over the course of the last month  or so, the guys have been developing all   of the trimming strategies necessary  for our cyclic and collective heads. So they look very pretty in renders,  but they're not the easiest things in   the world to trim. And we've developed  out the techniques to be able to trim   these. We've developed the backlighting  for the decals, we've dealt with all of   the perceived quality issues for the feel  of the buttons that sit on the switch heads. The only thing that we've got left to do  on this at the moment is to sort out the   trigger functionality and then  we're well away with that.

So, really pleased with how these things  are coming on. It feels great. And the trim quality is, again,  far beyond what I hoped, really.   It's really delivered above and beyond on my  expectations. So really pleased with that. The little inset pictures that you can see there  are all of the components for the first two IPIs,   sorry, first two instrument panels for HX50. So  for the two machines for December. So they're   all in stock now, waiting to be trimmed  and then assembled onto the aircraft.

So, really pleased with how all of that's  coming together. If we talk briefly about   the digi cockpit, what we've got behind me at the  moment is a second cabinet, which is being used   to essentially bench build, the wiring looms, all  of the hardware and all of the physical equipment   that are going into the two machines at Christmas  ahead of transferring it to the aircraft. So the   digicockpit corner is a little bit of a mess at  the moment because there's so much going on there.

But we're currently just integrating all of  the hardware, the software and the wiring   looms to make all of that stuff work as  soon as it goes into the aircraft. So,   really pleased with that. One area  that we've been talking to customers,   but not publicly about for a little while  now is our exterior lighting clusters. We want to make sure that HX50 is sort  of distinctive and elegant and lives up   to all of your expectations that you'd  get from a premium automotive product,   but also that it works really well as both a  day and night VFR aircraft. So we were always   very keen that the night lighting and the  landing lighting that we provide is really,   really powerful and safe for use  in the widest variety of conditions   that we can imagine. We are now well into  prototyping all of the lighting clusters.

These prototype units will be used to verify  all of the optical performance of the lights,   all of the sort of manufacturability  of the lights. And they'll also be   present on the two machines that we  demonstrate in December. So what you   can see in the figure here, you've  got a landing light in the nose. You've got a split anticolision beacon  partly in the nose and partly in the tail   to give full 360 degree coverage. We've got  contributing landing lights on the wingtip   that provide a wider beam. And then you've got  your navigation lights located in the wingtips. Also, we've got prototypes of both these accrued  rapid prototypes that develop out the electronic   parts on the bench over there that I'll show  you right now. And we're expecting to have the  

wing tip lights with us very shortly. Let's  go and have a look at these things in action. So what you can see here is the inside  portions. And none of this has been sort   of finished with chrome coatings or any of that  yet. This is purely rapid prototype material. So we've got the 3D Hill badge on the top  of the unit. We've got a bright chrome Hill emblem.  

And that's what you'll  see when you walk up to the aircraft. And then below the center, we've got  the forward portion of the anticolision   light. And I'll demonstrate the  rear version of that in a second.   And then we've got the optics for  the LED landing lights right here. So if I just pop those on for a second,  then all of the electronic and optical   design for these has been completed.  I'll just knock them off center so I  

don't kill the camera. All of the heatsinks  and the electronics are packaged within the   module and these things will literally  light up anything that you want to. They're incredibly powerful. So we've got a little  bit of tuning to do with those to get the spread   and the level and intensity of those things  right. But these things are working a treat. The finished versions of these with all the  appropriate finishes and packaged into within   the lenses are being built right now as  I speak. So really excited to see those  

things come together. Our lighting production  partners have done an absolutely incredible job. Let me just show you the tail light  cluster. Just pop that down there   for a second. So this is buried  into the tip of the ducted fan. So you've got a chrome finishing piece  around here. You've got two contributors   to your rear navigation light, and then  you've got your anti collision beacon   that fits right there. And this thing has  got an incredible range of visibility. So if I just knock that on for a second,  I'll just turn it away from Milan so it   doesn't blind him. But that's all operational.  We're using some proxy drivers at the moment,  

rather than the correct airworthy drivers,  because this is all about the optical performance. It's all about getting the manufacturing  engineering of these clusters right and then,   of course, getting the heat rejection right for  the various environments that these things will   be operating in in practice. So, really pleased  with how these things are coming on. We've got a little surprise for you with the strip  lights that run down the side of the fuselage. And we should have the wingtip lights in this  state within the next week or so. So really,  

really pleased with how the lighting  hardware is coming together. In terms of the interior, it's been also  a busy old week on the interior. Oh - a busy month or so on the interior.  We've been doing a lot of work on our crew seat,   if you remember, to our last remember back to our  last global meetup. We put a seat demonstrator,   a seat technology demonstrator on the stand.

So this brought together the crash  worthiness the composite structures,   the trimming essentials and structures,  and all of the other elements that we need. What we're doing now is taking that  to a new level with a generation two crew seat. So this goes back much closer to  our original design intent, brings all   of those technologies together and delivers a  really, really beautiful and comfortable seat. What you can see in the inset picture there  is some of the underpinning structure that   we're testing at the moment before it gets  trimmed and finished off. And that work is   going on right now with one of our partners.  And then the other thing that we're working on  

at the moment is all of the interior surface  of the aircraft obviously has to be trimmed. So that requires substrates. So we've been  designing all of the clip on substrates for   trimming your pillars, your roof linings, your  chin beams, and all of the other things that   are required to be able to deliver that plush  automotive grade interior that you all want for HX50.

So really pleased with how that works  been coming on, it's really coming together. So I would ordinarily do a quick walk around  at this point, but I'm conscious of time.   I'll just quickly show you two things while  we're here. In terms of the skid development,   what we've got here is the last of the receptacles  that will go into aircraft sorry, fuselage seven. And this is what the front skid connectors  are attached to in the fuselage. This is   how we get the loads into the fuselage.  And then on the three axis at the moment,  

you can see that we're busily producing the  first lower half of the gearbox casings, for the three gearbox casings that we're producing  for December. So that's pretty much what we've   been up to over the course of the last few  weeks in terms of mechanical components.   Let's talk briefly about some additional  production facilities that we're developing. I mentioned while we were down at DC Two  that the Gantry mill has become somewhat   problematic for us. Gantry mills are critical to  composites because we need to make vast patterns,   vast moulds, and then we need to trim these  large composite components, trim glazing,   and that requires these great big CNC  machines that can do that reliably and   repeatably. These machines are different to  the machines that we have here because they  

have to have extensive dust extraction and  manage large amounts of material removal. Our Gantry mill was bought secondhand  during the pandemic simply because you   couldn't get anything at that time and we  needed to progress. But the machine has   become so unreliable now that it's costing us  significant amounts of time in the program.  So, we've elected to purchase the first of the  gantry mills that we'll use in production. So we've invested in a vast 8.5 meter by 5 meter by 2 meter working envelope gantry mill.

This will be the machine that produces all of the production tools. It will produce  all of the production patterns. It will trim all of your windows, it'll trim all  of your doors. It'll do all of those operations,   and it lands here in the UK in January  this year. So from January, the kit that   we need to produce all of these things for your  aircraft will be with us and will be working.

It has, of course, landed me with another slightly  challenging problem, which is bigger than any of   my facilities. So we're going to need some more  space. So we'll get onto that in just a second. But the other thing that this thing does as  well, this is the machine that produces your   composite rotor blades as well. It produces  those tools for the rotor blades that we go   flying with. Let's give you a quick update  on where we are with the production facility. As you are aware, we were due to  be submitted to committee a little   while ago. That was delayed. It was delayed  again, and now the planning authorities are  

requesting that we do what they call  an environmental impact assessment. They estimate that the timeline for this will  be between five and eight months. Given what   we've seen so far, I think it'll be longer  than that. So the development facility is   now on the critical path, which means we have  to consider our production continuity plan.

That's what we're doing now. So our next step is  essentially to take on a large rented space that   will give us all of the room that we need  to complete the development and then move   seamlessly into production. There's plenty  of these facilities available in our area. We're in negotiations with a number of facilities  at the moment. We haven't yet decided on the exact   site or size, but this will be done before  the event in December. Okay, so there's some  

decisions to make whether we split production  and flying or whether we use multiple sites. All of those options are open and they make  no difference to our ability to deliver. So   we're getting on with this right now, and  we're just making sure that we can stick   as closely as possible to our declared timeline.  So really pleased with how this is coming along.

The other thing that this does, of course, do  is it means we can take as long as we need to   to develop the HQ, and it also means we can  consider sites at airports, which make the   whole planning issue a lot easier as well. So  what we've done here is, rather than being held   ransom by a challenging environment, we've taken a  very pragmatic sidestep and now we move on at full  speed. So with all of this fun stuff happening,  sales have continued to roll in at quite a pace. We've now sold 765 Xs 178 Cs, giving us  a grand total of 943 aircraft.   

So just 57 to go until that magic thousand  number. We're in 67 countries. There has never been a better time to  join our community. So if you don't want   to wait too long for your helicopter,  come join us now. Thank you very much   for listening to me and I'm happy now to  answer any questions that you may have.

Thank you. Fantastic update, Jason, thank you  very much. This one was really packed one,   and I really appreciate the final part that  you shared about production because we have   a lot of those questions coming out  about how you're going to be producing,   when it's going to be producing, how is  the factory, and that was very clear today. Making it clear also that production  is going to start as planned.   So, we're going to go with the questions. The  first one right away is from Lawrence.

We've been receiving questions on the chat,  and if you have questions, just put it in now   because they'll be in sequence. Mischa and I will be  taking turns. So the first one is from Lawrence. It says, for those of us older pilots, will  the digital displays have the capacity to   display key data and enlarge display for  easy viewing?    So at the moment, the Digi cockpit is just being developed as a minimum  viable product, as we say. So we're defining   just the core features to make the thing work  properly. Of course, with a digital environment,   you've got the option to overlay as many themes  as we want to and to vary things like font size. The only challenge you've got with that  is unlike a car display, we cram a lot   of information into the real estate. So  there are some practical limits to how  

much you could expand the size of the fonts. But  fundamentally, the fonts are being designed to be readable by anybody that can pass an aviation  medical. So at the moment, if you look at some of   the graphics that are out there, some of the fonts  are a little bit small. We're cognizant of that.

We're sorting that out. It's being mopped  up as part of this UX redesign tha

2023-10-18 15:08

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