Honda unveils production model of new jet

Bruce Chapman/Journal

Bruce Chapman/Journal

The HondaJet aircraft remains on pace for its long-awaited debut in the first quarter, with Honda Aircraft Co. revealing the first production model today, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

The company announced several achievements and milestones for the jet at the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition in Geneva, Switzerland. HondaJet is a light business jet designed to carry six to seven people.

The aircraft is being designed and built at a 600,000-square-foot facility on its 130-acre site near Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro. Among the company’s operations are customer service, research and development center, and a production facility.

Earlier this year, the company surpassed the 1,000 employee mark locally.

Honda said the jet is ready for ground tests following the recent delivery of the first set of GE Honda HF120 engines.

There are nine aircraft on the final assembly lines, with four aircraft with their wings and empennages attached. The first test flight is projected to take place this summer.

“Honda Aircraft Co.’s most important goals are achieving Federal Aviation Administration Type Certification and delivering the first customer aircraft,” Michimasa Fujino, the company’s president and chief executive, said in a statement.

The company said in December it had entered its final stage of testing with the FAA.

“Our total effort is focused on reaching these much anticipated milestones in the first quarter,” Fujino said.

Anthony Piazza, vice president of administration for American Honda Motor Co., has said Honda’s capital investment in Greensboro is more than $140 million since it established Honda Aircraft in 2006.

“The HondaJet production line is maturing with efficient and robust processes in place to build high quality aircraft,” Fujino said. “From handheld tablets that deliver worker instructions to an automatic guided cart to pick up and deliver parts, we continue to integrate the latest technology into our production process to create an efficient workflow.”

The company revealed another paint scheme, a deep pearl green with a gold stripe. The jet now features five exterior color options, along with silver, red, yellow and blue.

The company said testing has commenced with FAA pilot participation. Testing includes: stall speed, stall characteristics and stall warning system; wheels, tires and brake control system tests; flap actuation system and speed brake operation throughout the flight envelope; hydraulic system control tests; and in-flight fire suppression system.

Also required by the FAA is full-scale fatigue testing. The ground structural test program has completed more than 2,000 cycles – the equivalent of more than five years of use for typical business jet operators. Testing examined the airframe’s fatigue strength under simulated in-flight operations derived from theoretical load spectra and mission profiles.

The company said Fokker Aerostructures will supply the tail assembly for the jet. Honda said Fokker was selected based on its expertise in the manufacturing of tail sections for business jets with a global supply chain network.

Honda, working with FlightSafety International, is developing flight and maintenance training curriculums with classes scheduled to begin later this year in Greensboro. The first flight simulator for flight training is complete.

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