Engines arrive for conforming HondaJet first flight

Washington DC
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Honda has received from General Electric the initial two GE Honda HF120 turbofan engines for its first conforming HondaJet entry-level business jet that the company is readying for a first flight.

The second conforming aircraft, completed in July, is undergoing static stress testing and a third conforming flight-test aircraft is in production.

A fourth flight-test aircraft will be used for fatigue testing in 2012 before the planned certification of the $4.5 million twinjet in the third quarter of 2012.

"In addition to the more than 500 flight hours we have accumulated on the proof-of-concept HondaJet, the successful completion of this robust range of static structural stress tests on the conforming aircraft significantly reinforces the advantages of the HondaJet's advanced design," says Michimasa Fujino, Honda Aircraft's president and chief executive.

The first conforming flight-test aircraft is in ground testing and has completed a battery of pre-flight tests, including landing gear deployment, steering and braking and flight control tests. The aircraft has received a new metallic silver-over-white paint scheme at the company's Greensboro, North Carolina research and development facility, says Honda.

A new 23,230m2 (250,000ft2) production facility is in the final phase of construction and is to be completed in early 2011. The new facility will house airframe and engine production as well as two painting stations and Flight Safety International-built full motion flight simulators.

GE - which is developing the 1,928lb thrust (8.6kN) HF120 engines in a joint venture with Honda - is building the first 20 conforming aircraft engines at its Massachusetts facility, 10 for the certification programme and 10 for the first batch of customers. Thereafter, engine production will be transferred to Honda's new campus in Burlington, says GE business and general aviation vice-president and general manager Brad Mottier.

Mottier says GE has demonstrated thrust and fuel burn "around the whole flight envelope" and is seeing "better than what we committed to in terms of performance" from the turbofans. The engine has been tested in an altitude chamber to 46,000ft (14,000m) and M0.85 (approximately 490kt/900km/h) at GE's facilities, well beyond the aircraft's 43,000ft maximum altitude and 420kt maximum speed. "The engine is performing beautifully," says Mottier. GE expects to certify the HF120 in 2011.