NBAA Convention News

HondaJet starts production line; HF120 engine nears certification.

 - October 29, 2012, 6:30 PM
Honda Aircraft president Michimasa Fujino

Honda Aircraft has started the production line for its $4.5 million HondaJet entry-level twinjet. A handful of initial customer aircraft are scheduled to be completed next year. Honda expects FAA certification of the HondaJet’s GE Honda HF120 engine (2,095 pounds of thrust/5,000-hour TBO) in the middle of next year and aircraft certification in 2013.

“An assembly line for HondaJet production is in place, major aircraft components including the fuselage and wing have been produced, and we have started assembly of the first customer aircraft,” said Honda Aircraft president Michimasa Fujino.

The company is continuing its aggressive flight-test program at its growing Greensboro, N.C. campus, now home to 750 employees, with six test aircraft that have met major milestones this year, according to Fujino. Recent testing includes hot fuel testing, fuselage structure temperature validation and powerplant and electrical generator cooling.

The fifth conforming flight-test aircraft recently completed power-on electrical testing and will be fitted with a production interior so it can join the fleet early next year. Currently three aircraft are in flight test, one is being used for ground test, and another for recently completed and successful structural load testing. The fuselage mockup at Honda Aircraft’s NBAA exhibit (Booth No. 5393) features the conforming production interior, as well as the production cockpit equipped with Garmin’s G3000 flightdeck.

Honda Aircraft broke ground in September on a new 90,000-sq-ft MRO facility at its 130-acre Greensboro campus that will provide 24/7 support and can simultaneously process up to 12 aircraft.

Here at NBAA, Honda announced the appointment of its newest dealer, Canada’s Skyservice Business Aviation. Skyservice is an aircraft management, maintenance and charter operator with facilities in Toronto, Montreal and Calgary. Skyservice joins nine other HondaJet dealers announced to date in North America and Europe.

GE Honda Aero Engines (Booth No. 3906) said engine certification testing is proceeding well, with 13 HF120 test engines accumulating more than 5,500 hours and 7,300 cycles. The company said it expects to complete all testing by year-end and to have submitted all certification documents to the FAA early next year. Tests that remain include medium bird ingestion, 150-hour block endurance test and crosswind. The results, especially the critical block test, should be available in November. “Based on those, we can tell our delivery timing,” Fujino told AIN. “They’re making good progress.”

GE Honda Aero executives said that initial certified engines will be made at GE Aviation’s Lynn, Mass. facility before production shifts to the GE Honda Burlington, N.C. assembly plant, which could develop the capacity to assemble 1,000 engines per year.

The company plans to offer three levels of engine service plans to customers, including basic warranty, an enhanced program that would cover parts, and a comprehensive turnkey program for parts and labor. Company officials said pricing for the programs is being evaluated but will be competitive. They also said that they are pursuing other customers, both OEM and retrofit, for the engine, including direct competitors of the HondaJet, but that their primary focus remains on getting engines certified and delivered to Honda Aircraft.

Meanwhile, Fujino is happy to be so close to certification of the HondaJet. The light jet’s flight testing has shown that it is performing even better than expected, with a higher top speed and lower specific fuel consumption. “We have to conduct final testing after we get the final [conforming] engine,” he said. “Building an aircraft or certifying an aircraft is an extremely difficult job,” he concluded. “We are building an airplane but also building an airplane company at the same time.”