GE Honda HF120 Certification Testing Almost Complete

 - October 29, 2012, 10:45 AM
GE Honda Aero recently completed water-ingestion testing on the HF120 engine.

GE Honda Aero completed water-ingestion testing on the HF120 engine that powers Honda Aircraft’s HondaJet in early September. The tests were done in one of GE’s Peebles, Ohio test cells and are just one of many the HF 120 has passed during a busy year as the engine nears FAA certification.

According to GE Honda Aero Engines president Terry Sharp, 2012 “has been an extremely productive year.” Many tests have been completed, including the fan low-pressure compressor stress test, acceleration-thrust response test, initial maintenance interval testing and the fan blade-out test. In August, the HF120 successfully passed ground ice-induction testing at the Eglin Air Force Base McKinley Climatic Lab in Florida. The ice slab test that the HF120 failed in February 2011 was successfully passed in August 2011. “At that time [February 2011] we had a deformation of the fan blade tip and we didn’t meet the thrust requirement,” said Masahiko Izumi, executive v-p of GE Honda Aero Engines. “We decided to make a small design change [to the fan blade tips].” The redesign of the fan, which is a single-piece blisk-type component, involved thickening the material at the blade tips, and this was accomplished in six months, including the successful testing.

Twelve engines are in the certification program, with an additional six (soon to be eight) already flying on HondaJets. As of mid-September, HF120s had logged more than 7,300 hours and cycles. A key test–the block test–remained to be done and requires 150 hours of cyclic testing under extreme conditions, including triple redline: maximum fan, maximum core and maximum ITT at the same time.

Other tests that need to be done are the medium-bird test–where a one-pound bird carcass is aimed at the running engine–and that was scheduled for the end of October or early November. This will be followed by the crosswind aeromechanical operability test, scheduled for December.

After the block test is done in mid-November, that engine will be disassembled completely and laid out for examination by FAA engineers. GE Honda has submitted 93 percent of the certification reports to the FAA, with 83 percent already approved. After the block and other tests are completed, the company expects to submit all documents to the FAA in January or February, and certification should occur in mid-May.

The initial batch of HF120 engines will be assembled at GE’s Lynn, Mass. plant. Then, after GE Honda’s Burlington, N.C. facility receives a production certificate from the FAA, manufacturing will move to Burlington.

“I’ve been on a lot of engine programs,” said Sharp, “and this is normally where you’re really accelerating. We can all see the light at the end of the tunnel; we’re excited about the completion of testing.”