In The Works July 2011: Honda Aircaft HondaJet

 - June 25, 2011, 9:35 AM

Honda Aircraft has achieved new milestones during flight testing of the first FAA-conforming HondaJet (F1), including reaching a maximum speed of 425 knots (true airspeed), rate of climb of 3,990 fpm and maximum operating altitude of 43,000 feet. Powered by two GE Honda HF120 turbofans, the $4.5 million HondaJet is scheduled to enter service in the third quarter of next year. The next HondaJet to fly will be F2, and this is the third conforming jet. Power-on testing is complete and function testing of F2 is under way in preparation for its first flight this summer. The second conforming jet (ST1) is undergoing full-airframe structural testing. Honda Aircraft technicians are installing systems on the fourth conforming HondaJet (F3), which will also join the flight-test program. The fifth jet (ST2) is slated for stress and fatigue testing; the final test jet (F4) is expected to fly in spring 2012 and be used for cabin systems and function and reliability testing. F4 will likely be the first HondaJet with a fully production-conforming interior.

While some of the HondaJet structure will be built at the company’s Greensboro, N.C. factory, UK-based Hampson is manufacturing the aluminum empennage. The composite fuselage, made of a honeycomb sandwich and stiffened panels, is built in two halves in molds that are cured in an autoclave. GKN Aerospace is manufacturing HondaJet fuselages in Tallassee, Ala. Honda Aircraft earlier had planned to have wings built by a third party but will manufacture the first 30 to 40 wingsets in Greensboro, after which it might move wing manufacturing to another company, according to president Michimasa Fujino. “We’ll do what’s best from a cost and quality standpoint,” he said.