If anyone doubts Honda Motor Company’s commitment to the general aviation industry, a visit to Honda Aircraft’s new 623,000-sq-ft factory at Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, N.C., underscores the significant investment the company has made.
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Honda Aircraft has announced a delay in first flight of the conforming prototype HondaJet and projected first customer delivery. The next prototype was originally scheduled to have flown by now, and the new date is January next year. First customer delivery is now planned for the fourth quarter 2011, at least a year later than planned.
If the HondaJet were being developed by a traditional business jet manufacturer, we would undoubtedly know a lot more about its future. Those who follow new-aircraft projects are used to receiving regular updates on milestones and test results along the way as the manufacturer seeks to reassure stockholders, lure new investors–or both.
As preparations continue for the construction of Honda Aircraft’s new world headquarters building in Greensboro, N.C., Honda engineers are refining the aircraft design and laying the groundwork for more prototypes.
Honda added another element to the business plan for its aviation ventures last month, when the Japanese carmaker announced the formation of Honda Aero Inc., a subsidiary of Honda Motor Co. Led by Junichi Araki, the new business unit will employ only about 10 people and is scheduled to begin operations by year-end at a U.S. location to be determined.
On August 8 Honda Motor Co. launched a new company, Honda Aircraft, which will certify the very light HondaJet in three to four years. The company is headed by long-time Honda engineer Michimasa Fujino, who spent the past 20 years quietly studying the aviation marketplace and technology before designing a new airplane that promises to offer strong competition in the sub-10,000-pound business jet class.
The HondaJet prototype was expected to make its world debut, and first public demonstration flight, on July 28 at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis. Its planned four-hour appearance at the show represents the twinjet’s first major exposure to aviation enthusiasts and the aviation media.