HondaJet prototype takes flight for first time

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Honda Aircraft Co. said Friday it has achieved another key production milestone with its HondaJet prototype taking flight for the first time, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

HondaJet is a light business jet designed to carry six to seven people.

The company said the flight at its Piedmont Triad International Airport facility began at 10:18 a.m. and lasted 84 minutes. The plane, flown by test pilot Warren Gould, climbed to a height of 15,500 feet and reached a top speed of 348 knots, or 404 miles per hour.

The plane is designed for a maximum cruise speed of 420 knots, or 483 mph, a maximum altitude of 43,000 feet, and a flight route of up to 1,357 miles.

“Today’s celebration is the culmination of extensive engineering and production efforts, and this is an important achievement in bringing the world’s most advanced light jet to market,” Michimasa Fujino, the company’s president and chief executive, said in a statement.

Honda Aircraft expects to achieve aircraft certification and entry into service in 2015. The company said in December it had entered its final stage of testing with the Federal Aviation Administration.

The aircraft is being designed and built at a 600,000-square-foot facility on a 130-acre site near PTI. 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.

In May, the company said there were nine aircraft on the final assembly lines, with four aircraft with their wings and empennages, or tail assemblies, attached.

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.

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