When Honda Aircraft (Booth No. 5394) announced a one-year delay to its business jet program last spring, some feared the worst as the U.S. economy struggled. It turned out the Japanese aircraft maker had fallen victim to many of the same supplier problems other OEMs were experiencing, a problem that translated into some new suppliers being brought on board.
The good news is the $3.9 million HondaJet appears to be on track with the first conforming airframe expected to fly early next year, especially now that GE Honda Aero Engines fired up the first fully conforming HF120 engine last week. Final certification and initial deliveries of the HondaJet are slated for late 2011. The company said more than 100 aircraft are on order, but that is the same number provided since early in the program.
One significant change to the airframe kept secret until the NBAA Convention was an upgrade to the avionics suite from a Honda-edition Garmin G1000 to a Honda-defined version of the new touch-screen Garmin G3000.
Honda’s long-term relationship with Garmin began in 2000. NBAA Convention News spoke briefly with Honda Aircraft president and CEO Michimasa Fujino on the show floor about the company’s relationship with Garmin and the company’s problems with parts and suppliers.
“We kept word of the G3000 secret for a long time as we worked with Garmin to define the unit and announce it at this show,” Fujino said. “We will offer the aircraft at the same price with the new avionics as the old. We may possibly revise the price at some point, but for now we are trying to keep the most affordable price for the customer.”
Interestingly, when Fujino talked about Honda’s parts suppliers, it became clear some of those small companies would have been replaced whether the U.S. economy had tanked or not.
“The diversity of the parts suppliers is one of our most difficult challenges,” he said. “We want to work together to improve quality, but it is difficult. It might be quicker sometimes to design and build everything in house, but most suppliers have their own technology [that we value], but we still need to increase quality standards.
“We try to infuse the Honda quality standard in our suppliers, but we cannot squeeze suppliers. We must learn to work together. We are a team and cannot blame suppliers if the product is not of the proper quality. Some suppliers are not always receptive to our suggestions about quality. They did not always want to improve products the way we would have liked,” Fujino concluded.