On August 8 Honda Motor Co. launched a new company, Honda Aircraft, which will certify the very light HondaJet in three to four years. The company is headed by long-time Honda engineer Michimasa Fujino, who spent the past 20 years quietly studying the aviation marketplace and technology before designing a new airplane that promises to offer strong competition in the sub-10,000-pound business jet class.
Launching a new era for the 70-year-old lightplane manufacturer, Piper Aircraft president and CEO Jim Bass last month took the wraps off the design mockup for the single-engine, six-seat PiperJet, an airplane priced at $2.19 million that adds another serious player to the market for very light jets.
Early last month Piper delivered the 200th Malibu Meridian since the turboprop single entered service in November 2000. Piper also announced that a three-screen Avidyne FlightMax Entegra will become the standard avionics system on the Meridian.
Beyond the merriment that the very light jet is coming to market, the insurance industry is preparing to drop the curtain in the final act.
Last month James Bass replaced Chuck Suma as president and CEO of Piper Aircraft. The change was announced in a terse statement by the Vero Beach, Fla. manufacturer, but the decision would have been made by American Capital Strategies, the Bethesda, Md., investment firm that purchased Piper in 2003.
Cutter Aviation-Dallas is using the high-end car dealership as a model on which to base its facility, a strategy that is working well, said Andy Biery, general manager of the company’s operation at Dallas Executive Airport (RBD). Biery said the facility is designed to maximize customer interaction with key Cutter personnel, including service managers and parts and sales representatives.
Piper’s new CEO, James Bass, said his company is still considering introducing a very light jet, telling AIN that it is an “important component of our product development strategy.” But as the company has said in the past, it “cannot offer specifics today on timing or configuration.
Two weeks after Honda revealed its long-anticipated commercial plans for the HondaJet, the Japanese company on August 8 established a wholly owned subsidiary–Honda Aircraft–that will develop, market and produce the engine-over-the-wing very light twinjet. The new company will be based at the Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, N.C., where the HondaJet prototype was assembled and has been engaged in test flying since Dec.
Honda announced on July 25 at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., that it will “enter the HondaJet into the growing very light jet market.” According to project leader and vice president of Honda R&D Americas Michimasa Fujino, Honda will establish a new U.S. company to produce and certify the over-the-wing-engine twinjet in the U.S. Honda plans to certify the HondaJet in 2009 or 2010 under FAR Part 23.
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