The $3.9 million HondaJet appears to be on track for certification and first deliveries in late 2011, with the first conforming airframe expected to fly early next year, Honda Aircraft said yesterday at the NBAA Convention. The company also announced that the HondaJet flight deck has been upgraded from a Honda-edition Garmin G1000 to a Honda-defined version of the new touchscreen Garmin G3000.
Honda HA-420 HondaJet
When Honda Aircraft (Booth No. 5394) announced a one-year delay to its business jet program last spring, some feared the worst as the U.S. economy struggled. It turned out the Japanese aircraft maker had fallen victim to many of the same supplier problems other OEMs were experiencing, a problem that translated into some new suppliers being brought on board.
The GE Honda joint venture last Thursday fired up the first conforming version of its new 2,095-lb-thrust HF120 engine currently slated for certification in 2011. Initial engine tests are typically completed in a sea-level test cell, with high-altitude performance testing conducted onboard an aircraft.
The first GE Honda HF120 engine has successfully started its initial test run at GE Aviation’s altitude test chamber in Evendale, Ohio, the company announced yesterday at the NBAA Convention. “This is a significant milestone and represents the transition from the design-definition phase to the test and certification phase of the HF120,” said GE Honda Aero Engines president Bill Dwyer.
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.
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.