With 123 HondaJets and HondaJet Elites now in service, Honda Aircraft is embarking on another expansion of its Greensboro, North Carolina facility to accommodate production ramp-up and parts demand for those aircraft. Honda Aircraft (Booth 69, SD403) is investing $15.5 million in an 82,000-sq-ft building that will be used for wing assembly for the HondaJet Elite, capacity that the company said will make the production process more efficient. Michimasa Fujino, president and CEO of Honda Aircraft, said the company is looking at automation technologies that will be incorporated into the new facility. In addition, the facility will house parts storage. Ground-breaking is scheduled for July.
To open in July 2020, the facility is part of an overall $245 million investment Honda Aircraft has made in production, training, MRO, and other facilities on its 133-acre campus in Greensboro. "As the HondaJet's popularity and presence continue to increase around the world, it is necessary for our facility to meet our production and service needs while operating at the highest level of efficiency," Fujino said.
In addition, Honda Aircraft is expanding its training capacity for the HondaJet Elite with plans to add a second simulator. The company is still evaluating locations for the simulator, but Fujino said it would likely be housed in Europe “because of the strong customer demand” there.
The additional support and production capacity comes as Honda Aircraft builds up its fleet. The company has increased its sales and service footprint to cover North America, Europe, Latin, and South America, Southeast Asia, China, the Middle East, India, and Japan. Thirty-seven HondaJets and the successor HondaJet Elite were delivered last year.
Unveiled in spring 2018, Honda Aircraft began delivery of the HondaJet Elite last summer and has since expanded its market with recent certifications, including approvals from India in September, Brazil in October, Japan in December, and Canada in April. These came in addition to earlier certifications from the U.S. FAA and EASA. The most recent delivery was to charter operator Wing Spirit in Hawaii, which will use the aircraft for both charters and air ambulance services
Fujino credited the sales to an effort of Honda Aircraft to expand the business aviation market and develop new models. To that end, he estimated that nearly one-quarter of Honda Aircraft sales are to new customers. As far as new models, he pointed to the alliance Honda Aircraft formed with All Nippon Airways, which has an agreement to use two HondaJets that can provide connecting travel for ANA passengers in Los Angeles and Chicago. ANA expects to expand this service to Europe, Fujino added.