PICTURES: Honda unveils conforming aircraft, plans November first flight

Washington DC
This story is sourced from Flight International
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Honda Aircraft is preparing to begin test flights in November of the first conforming prototype for its seven-seat light jet.

The North Carolina-based manufacturer says the first conforming flight test aircraft for its HondaJet programme recently completed power-on tests. Honda says it is now focussing on the integration of avionics and other electrical systems. Senior manager of corporate affairs Stephen Keeney says work on integrating the engine will begin as soon as the first batch of GE Honda HF120 turbofan engines are received, expected early in the third quarter.

Keeney says it will take Honda six to eight weeks to integrate the engines. Once that task is completed and a safety of flight certification is received from the engine manufacturer, the conforming prototype will be ready to fly. Keeney says Honda is now aiming for first flight in November and entry into service in summer 2012.

The HondaJet was originally slated to enter service in late 2010 but the programme has experienced numerous delays, mainly related to supplier issues. In early 2009 entry into service was pushed back by 12 months to late 2011. Keeney says in April of this year Honda informed its customers of a further entry into service delay to the third quarter of 2012.

But Keeney says construction of Honda's 250,000ft2 (23,000m2) production facility at its Greensboro, North Carolina campus is progressing as originally scheduled. Keeney says the facility will open in early 2011 although production under the revised schedule will not begin until early 2012. Keeney says the additional time will give Honda more time to get ready for production and set up the tooling.

The proof of concept HondaJet, which has racked up over 500 hours since it first flew in 2003, is expected to be retired once the conforming prototypes are completed. Keeney says a second flight test aircraft should come online in mid-2011.

Honda also recently completed its first static test aircraft and says static structural testing will begin this month. The static test, incorporating 1,800 strain gauges, will take place at Honda's Greensboro research and development facility.

Honda says the recently completed power-on tests on the first flight test aircraft "included confirmation of power supply both from the on-board battery to the aircraft's power distribution system and from the external ground power unit to the power distribution system".