Honda Aircraft continued a four-month-long “world tour” in Sao Paulo with the HondaJet making its debut at the Latin American Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition (LABACE) on 11 August.
But the long wait for the type to receive airworthiness approval from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) continues, with no clear timeline offered from North Carolina-based manufacturer.
The FAA granted the HondaJet a “provisional” type certificate in March, a step often implying that full airworthiness approval usually demanded by customers before accepting delivery is either weeks or a few months away.
But HondaJet chief executive Michimasa Fujino told reporter at LABACE only that he expects certification to be achieved in “late summer”, with the caveat that the timing depends on the FAA’s procedures.
The FAA, however, has seemed to be still evaluating special airworthiness issues for the lightweight jet, the first to seek type approval in the USA with over the wing mounted engines.
The agency on 12 August published a new “special condition” for the HondaJet to prove its airworthiness. Special conditions cover a variety of issues that come up in type certification for which there are no regulations.
The HondaJet has already been the focus of several special conditions from the FAA, covering issues ranging from extinguishing fires in the over-the-wing engines (since withdrawn) to the use of lithium-ion batteries as a back-up power supply. The latest special condition addresses the need for a back-up pressurisation system at altitudes over 41,000ft, as the HondaJet seek to operate at up to 43,000ft.
Meanwhile, Honda Aircraft is hoping to quickly establish the HondaJet in the Latin American market. The industry’s newest entrant faces entrenched competition in every market it targets, but in Latin America the locally-designed Embraer Phenom 100 could be a tough contender. Cessna, meanwhile, also has had success selling the M2 entry-level jet into Latin America.
But Honda Aircraft is clearly looking to overcome these challenges. The manufacturer partnered with a well-known Brazilian dealer, Lider Aviation, as its local representative for sales, service and support. Lider is also partnered with Bombardier, which has no direct competitor to the entry-level HondaJet.