Construction begins for Honda Aircraft HQ

 - July 31, 2007, 5:51 AM

On June 27, Honda Aircraft president and CEO Michimasa Fujino and local officials held a groundbreaking ceremony for the company’s new world headquarters at Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, N.C. While most of the officials used the traditional silver shovel to turn over some dirt, Fujino and Tony Copeland, North Carolina assistant secretary of commerce, grabbed the controls of a Honda tiller machine (engine already running) and carved a few furrows.

“When I looked at the grading for the site,” said Fujino, “it was kind of an overwhelming sight for me. It’s an indication of the progress in taking this to the sky. The birthplace of the HondaJet will always be North Carolina, and I’m very proud to say that.”

The Honda Aircraft headquarters site encompasses 83 acres, and phase one includes the headquarters building and hangar facility totaling 219,000 sq feet, which replaces Honda Aircraft’s existing 32,000-sq-ft research and development building. Phase two will add 150,000 sq ft for manufacturing the HondaJet. The company expects to build 100 of the jets per year with 350 employees.

More than 100 individual customers have placed orders for the HondaJet. That figure does not include fleet orders and does not indicate if a customer ordered multiple aircraft. Certification and first deliveries are expected in 2010. Honda Aircraft will do paint and interior completions at the factory.

All of the Honda Aircraft buildings are designed to meet U.S. Green Building Council standards, and Honda will seek Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification. Green features include a reflective roof to reduce heat gain inside the building; low-e-glass dual-pane windows, also for reducing heat gain; exterior steel panels with nearly 30-percent recycled content; fly ash content in concrete slab and footings of up to 25 percent to save energy; U.S.-made steel with 25 to 90 percent recycled content; and locally sourced construction materials to reduce generation of greenhouse gases during transportation.

For Fujino, the reception from the citizens of the Triad area around Greensboro has been warm and welcoming. “I’m confident of a very bright future in North Carolina,” he said.

Honda Expands North Carolina Footprint
More parts of Honda’s aerospace puzzle are coming together as the company announced on July 17 that its GE Honda HF120 turbofan engines (2,000-pound-thrust class) would be made in North Carolina, where the HondaJet will be manufactured. To date, the engine has been selected to power the Spectrum Freedom and the HondaJet.

Honda said it would construct at the Burlington-Alamance Regional Airport a $27 million, 102,000-sq-ft engine manufacture, support and repair plant that would begin operations in 2010. Honda plans to employ around 70 people there, and initial production is pegged at 200 engines per year. The HF120 is a higher-thrust successor to Honda’s original HF118 prototype engine and is a joint venture between GE and Honda. Representatives said the engine will include composite structures, including the exit guide vanes. The first core test of the GE Honda HF120 was conducted earlier this year.      –M.H.