Conforming HondaJet first flight 'very soon'

 - October 19, 2010, 8:58 AM
Honda Aircraft expects to make the first flight of its conforming HondaJet “very soon.”

An intensive series of system ground tests and static structural stress testing of production conforming aircraft continues at the HondaJet research and development center in Greensboro, N.C., as the light business jet proceeds toward a planned certification and first delivery in the third quarter of 2012.

Here at NBAA, HondaJet's exhibit (Booth No. 4555) features interior and exterior elements representing final configurations and equipment for the HondaJet. On display are production cockpit and cabin designs reflecting materials, colors and finishes to be available in delivery aircraft. Honda Aircraft has amassed orders for more than 100 of the $4.5 million HondaJets. The proof-of-concept prototype aircraft has logged more than 500 flight test hours, attaining a top speed of 420 knots and maximum altitude of 43,000 feet.

On the eve of NBAA 2010 Honda Aircraft updated the status of the HondaJet certification effort, announcing that ground testing of the first production conforming flight test aircraft is under way as static structural stress testing takes place on the second conforming–but non-flying–airframe. Honda added that assembly of the third conforming aircraft (the second conforming flight test article) has commenced.

A Honda spokesman told AIN that first flight of conforming aircraft F1 is expected "very soon." Systems tests have already been done for oxygen, fuel tank and vapor cycle systems, landing gear deployment, steering and brakes, flight control, power distribution, core navigation functions, primary air data and AHRS, plus integrated avionics system functional testing.

Exterior treatment of aircraft F1 is also complete, with a new HondaJet paint scheme on view this week at Honda Aircraft's NBAA display. Assembly of the second conforming aircraft–ST1–to be used in static structural stress testing, was completed in July. Following FAA control surface testing, static structural stress tests of the entire aircraft have commenced, including 100 percent limit-load tests on wing and horizontal stabilizer structures. The static structural stress testing is taking place at the Greensboro R&D facility.

All static structural stress tests use Honda's advanced structural test system incorporating 61 hydraulic actuators and a 2,600-channel, data-acquisition system within a test fixture designed exclusively for the HondaJet. Testing will continue on the non-flying static test aircraft as the program moves through certification. The fourth conforming aircraft will undergo fatigue testing, scheduled for 2012.

Honda is now assembling the third conforming aircraft, which will flight test mechanical systems. The airplane's fuselage and empennage are complete, with the wing assembly near completion. Final assembly of this aircraft is scheduled to begin soon at Greensboro.

Concurrently, construction of the HondaJet production plant at Greensboro is near completion. The 250,000-sq-ft facility is scheduled to open early next year, when training of the production workforce will begin. The production facility will incorporate FlightSafety International Level-D full-motion flight simulators for training HondaJet pilots.

The Honda Advanced Systems Integration Test Facility incorporates actual aircraft systems hardware and software, interconnected with actual aircraft electrical harnesses. Additional simulation capabilities provide real-time navigation RF data, including GPS.