The design of new airframes always depends heavily on availability of new engine types. The very light jet segment, for example, had to wait until engine manufacturers Pratt & Whitney Canada and Williams International designed smaller engines to power a new class of light jet, and the same is true on the upper end of the market, with new large jets spurring development of ever more powerful and efficient turbofans.
Honda HA-420 HondaJet
Last spring, Honda Aircraft (Booth No. 5394) brought a new cabin mockup of its twinjet to the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE). Here at NBAA’09, the Greensboro, N.C.-based manufacturer is showing its HondaJet prototype and a fuselage mockup in its exhibit.
Despite the recession, a significant number of new aircraft programs remain largely on track. OEMs such as Cessna, Dassault Falcon, Embraer, and Gulfstream all appear to be staying close to their development schedules, while Hawker Beechcraft has pushed back the Premier II until 2012 (from 2010). Newcomers Honda and Spectrum appear to have suffered some minor slippage, sending the earliest deliveries of those aircraft into 2011.
That the annual EAA AirVenture show offers a mouth-watering and impossible-to-swallow cornucopia of everything aviation was never more evident than at this year’s event, where a colossal Airbus A380 shared the ramp at AeroShell Square with Burt Rutan’s most outlandish creation yet, the spaceship-launching Virgin Galactic WhiteKnightTwo built by the talented crew at Scaled Composites.
Assembly has begun at GE’s manufacturing facility in Lynn, Mass., on the first production GE Honda HF120 engine that will be used for FAA certification tests. “With the experience we’ve gained through our demonstrator engine testing program, we are confident the HF120 engine configuration is mature and are anticipating a smooth FAA certification testing program,” said GE Honda Aero Engines president Bill Dwyer.
Honda Aircraft has announced a delay in first flight of the conforming prototype HondaJet and projected first customer delivery. The next prototype was originally scheduled to have flown by now, and the new date is January next year. First customer delivery is now planned for the fourth quarter 2011, at least a year later than planned.
Citing global aerospace industry challenges, Honda Aircraft last month announced that it is moving the projected first flight of a production-conforming HondaJet to January next year, a delay of nearly a year from its previous schedule. A HondaJet prototype has been flying since Dec. 3, 2003.
Honda Aircraft, which announced last month a one-year delay in certification of its HondaJet as a result of supplier issues, remains confident, buoyed by an order book for “well over 100 aircraft.” According to Stephen Keeney, senior manager for corporate affairs, “the vast majority of our customers are sticking with us.”
The second half of this year will mark “significant certification testing milestones” for the GE Honda Aero Engines HF120, the turbofan that will power both the HondaJet and Spectrum S.40 Freedom, the engine partners said yesterday at EBACE.
Marshall Aerospace (Booth No. 1449) is designing and building nacelles for the new HondaJet aircraft under a contract placed in August, but not announced until late last year. The Cambridge, UK-based company is due to deliver the first five sets of nacelles to HondaJet’s headquarters in Greensboro, North Carolina, next month.