Conforming HondaJet Makes Maiden Flight
The first conforming Honda Aircraft HA-420 HondaJet took off from Runway 5 at Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, N.C., at 3:31 p.m. EST yesterday. Piloted by chief test pilot Warren Gould and test pilot Stefan Johanson, the light twinjet took off in clear weather with a slightly gusty 10-knot crosswind, according to Michimasa Fujino, president and CEO of Honda Aircraft, who watched the first flight along with all the Honda Aircraft employees in Greensboro. This was also the first flight of the HondaJet powered by the GE Honda Aero HF120 engine, which is more powerful than the Honda-designed and -built HF118 used in the prototype HondaJet. The HF120 made its first flight about two weeks ago on a GE CitationJet testbed. N420HJ is equipped with the production-conforming cockpit interior, including the Garmin G3000 touchscreen-controlled avionics system. Gould and Johanson flew N420HJ with the landing gear extended to 12,500 feet and between 170 and 180 knots during the 51-minute first flight. The conforming HondaJet performed much better than the prototype, Fujino said, because of the more powerful engines and drag reductions that engineers were able to achieve in the latest airframe. “Static stability is much better,” he said, “and damping characteristics are better. Not a huge change but an improvement from the [proof-of-concept aircraft]. The first flight was encouraging. This is a milestone for us to show our capability to build the conforming aircraft.” Five conforming HondaJets are planned, and the second has completed structural testing in preparation for flight testing. A third jet will be ready to enter the flight-test program early next year. Deliveries will begin in the third quarter of 2012.