GE Aviation says it is talking "seriously" with a couple of airframers about the next applications for its Honda joint-venture engines beyond the HF120 for the HondaJet.

The new light jet sector applications could see the engines develop as much as 5,000lb thrust (22kN), more than double the 2,050lb thrust for the joint venture's launch engine, said David Joyce, president and chief executive of GE Aviation.

"That's the first of many in that space for us," said Joyce. "We'd like to get an application outside of the HondaJet, and we want the GE Honda brand to be our brand in that size market," he added.

The thrust range is significantly higher than the 3,500lb-thrust maximum in the current joint venture agreement between the two companies, signed six years ago. At 5,000lb, the engines could compete on a wide variety of light jets, rivalling Pratt &Whitney Canada, Williams International and Honeywell. The testbed aircraft for the HF120 was a Williams FJ44-powered CJ1.

GE previously had high hopes for the HF120 design for the all-composite Spectrum S40 twinjet, but Joyce said the programme is dormant.

Honda plans to certificate the eight-passenger HondaJet, which includes an unusual feature of having its engines mounted on pylons above the wings, in the second half of 2012. The company reports 100 orders for the $4.5 million twinjet, with deliveries set to begin in 2012 from its Greensboro, North Carolina manufacturing centre.

"I absolutely love that programme," said Joyce. "I think it is going to surprise more people". He added: "The engine is dramatically better than any other engine in that space."

Source: Flight International