Honda Aircraft plans to begin test flying the first conforming HondaJet early next year as it prepares for a late-2011 service entry.

Honda Aircraft senior manager of corporate affairs Stephen Keeney says the North Carolina-based manufacturer has begun building three conforming aircraft that will be used to certificate the HondaJet. He says Honda hopes to have the first conforming prototype flying in January and on display at next year's AirVenture.

The proof-of-concept HondaJet, which was displayed at AirVenture for the fifth consecutive year, has logged 450h. The aircraft was originally scheduled to be certificated and delivered in late 2010. But Keeney says that earlier this year first delivery was pushed back by 12 months due to supplier issues.

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The orderbook stands at "well over 100" aircraft, forcing new customers to wait until 2014 for delivery. Keeney says interest in the aircraft remains strong despite the slow development programme and the economic downturn. "It's been a challenging time for everyone, but we've seen increased interest, mainly from companies looking to downsize to smaller jets," Keeney says.

 © HondaJet

Source: Flight International