Last spring, Honda Aircraft (Booth No. 5394) brought a new cabin mockup of its twinjet to the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE). Here at NBAA’09, the Greensboro, N.C.-based manufacturer is showing its HondaJet prototype and a fuselage mockup in its exhibit.
The HondaJet development program remains on its revised schedule for initial customer deliveries in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to Stephen Keeney, senior manager of corporate affairs. Assembly is well under way on the first conforming aircraft in Honda Aircraft’s new research-and-development center in Greensboro, he said. The first conforming airplane is expected to fly in January 2010, marking the start of the formal certification program. The schedule represents a one-year “adjustment” announced last spring as a result of supplier issues.
Meanwhile, after more than 500 test hours on the proof-of-concept airplane, Honda anticipates the first conforming model will meet or exceed projected performance numbers, based in part on an increase in engine thrust from 1,880 to 1,928 pounds (flat-rated from a maximum thrust of 2,095 pounds). The GE Honda HF120 turbofans will initially be produced at GE’s Lynn, Mass. facility and eventually at the GE Honda factory in Burlington, N.C.
The $3.9 million, five-passenger jet was originally expected to have a 3,990-fpm rate of climb, max cruise speed of 420 knots, ceiling of 43,000 feet and max range of 1,400 nm.
Keeney said the order book for the HondaJet is “well over 100 units, [with] no significant cancellations due to market conditions,” although this is a number that Honda Aircraft has been publicizing since shortly after the program was launched in 2006. Also helping boost the order book, he said, is the fact that with first deliveries not to begin before late 2011, “a lot of people think we’ll be well into an economic recovery by then.” He noted that the first available delivery slot is in 2014.
Approximately half the orders are from owner/operators, and the other half divided among corporations and entrepreneurs in small to medium businesses, he said.
Honda expects to break ground in January on a 250,000-sq-ft production facility that will also house flight training and flight operations as well as the aircraft production line.
Keeney said Honda is well satisfied with its decision to make North Carolina its base, noting that, “A lot of skilled aviation workers are interested in moving to places like Greensboro with its lower cost of living, good quality of life, excellent schools and exceptional infrastructure.” The company employs approximately 400 at Piedmont Triad International Airport and expects that figure to grow to 600 by the time it reaches full production.
There will be a ramp-up period after which Honda Aircraft expects to turn out 80 to 100 aircraft a year in single-shift production. “We also have the flexibility to increase that production rate if there is sufficient market demand,” said Keeney.
“A fairly substantial” announcement regarding the program is expected here at NBAA, possibly including news with regard to sales and support and pilot training, as well as more details about what Honda Aircraft described at EBACE as a “new concept” high-definition in-flight entertainment system.
Earlier this year, Honda announced the establishment of three stand-alone dealers to cover the Europe/UK, central Europe and southern Europe sales territories. The company also revealed plans to expand its partnership with FlightSafety International (FSI) to provide HondaJet pilot training for all European customers. FSI is already developing a level-D flight simulator for the program, to be installed at Honda headquarters in Greensboro.