Engine Redesign Adds Delay to HondaJet Program
Deliveries of the HondaJet will be delayed until at least mid-2013 because of a late-stage redesign of the GE Honda Aero HF120 engine that powers it. The engine fan has undergone the redesign following a failure during an on-ground ice ingestion test, Honda Aircraft president Michimasa Fujino revealed at NBAA 2011 in Las Vegas today. Fujino said he expected the revamped engine to be certified sometime in the second half of 2012. He called the delay “regrettable.”
A spokesman for GE Honda Aero said the redesigned fan blades are slightly thicker, but that the redesign would force a considerable portion of the “air work” performed on the original design to be repeated. Also complicating the redesign is that the fan is made from a blisk or single forging that includes all the blades and the fan hub.
The setback to the HondaJet program was balanced by the announcement of a new $20-million maintenance, repair and overhaul center the company said will open in 2013 on its 83-acre Greensboro, N.C. headquarters, R&D and production campus. Six hundred people are currently employed there, and Honda already has invested more than $100 million in infrastructure. The plant is designed to build up to 100 aircraft per year.
Fujino said the second conforming flight-test HondaJet likely will fly next month but that a third needs to await the redesigned engines. Honda’s test program is scheduled to employ four flight-test aircraft and the prototype as well as two static articles.
Fujino said that test aircraft flown to date had met or exceeded planned performance parameters, including a maximum altitude of FL430, maximum cruise speed of 425 ktas at FL300, and a demonstrated climb rate of 4,000 fpm. He also revealed more details about the aircraft’s interior and its cabin management system. Passengers will be able to control window opacity, lighting, in-flight entertainment systems and cabin temperature via small touch screens that fold down from the cabin ceiling, or wirelessly via personal devices.
Honda announced that its appointed dealers to date for the aircraft are located in Tallahassee, Fla.; Des Moines, Ia.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Salt Lake City, Utah; Greensboro, N.C.; Toluca, Mexico; Madrid, Spain; Munich, Germany; and Farnborough, U.K. The company also said that it plan to put its complete HondaJet parts catalog on the Internet.