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SINGAPORE: Honda Aircraft ramps up HA-420 production

Honda Aircraft is progressively ramping up production of its HA-420 HondaJet, as it works towards maximum annual output of 80 units.

In 2017, the Greensboro, North Carolina-based manufacturer handed over 43 examples of its very light business jet, a significant increase on the previous year's figure of 23 aircraft.

MIchimasa Fujino, chief executive of Honda Aircraft – and the designer of the HondaJet – says there will be a "steady increase to meet market demand" this year.

"But as [it is] elsewhere in the aerospace industry, we have to ensure that we can meet the ramp-up."

Fujino says that operator feedback has been incredibly positive so far, notably around its class-leading performance.

"We call it the advanced light jet," says Fujino. "We try to distinguish ourselves by performance rather than by just competing on price.

"Everyone says that with its acceleration and speed it’s more like a sports car – others say that it climbs like a rocket."

Maximum cruise speed is listed as 422kt (780km/h), which compares to the 405kt "high cruise speed" of the competing Embraer Phenom 100.

Honda Aircraft has brought a number of innovations to the size category, from the HA-420's composite fuselage and natural laminar flow aerofoils, to the over-wing-mounted GE Honda Aero Engines HF120 powerplants.

Although Fujino says there are no technical impediments to using these features on a larger aircraft, he declines to speculate on the company's future product strategy.

In the meantime, Honda Aircraft is working to increase its market share in the Asia-Pacific. So far, it has delivered just one aircraft in the region, in Thailand, but believes it can capture 40-45% of up to 120 very light jets it forecasts will be sold into the region over the next decade.

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