October 29, 2012
By Thomas B Haines
After more than a decade of development, the first customer HondaJet is under construction at Honda Aircraft’s 500,000-square-foot manufacturing, R&D, and administrative complex in Greensboro, N.C. The company’s high-tech production line includes automated guided carts to deliver needed parts to production line workers just in time.
The company anticipates completing three to four aircraft in 2013, although certification dates are dependent on the completion and certification of the GE Honda Aero Engines HF120 turbofan. Honda Aircraft President and CEO Michimasa Fujino said the engine has several certification tests to pass in the next few months before certification is passed at what is expected to be mid-2013.
The company has three conforming aircraft flying and two more in structural testing.
Among the unusual features of the HondaJet are its over-the-wing engine mounts, which the company says reduces drag and allows greater cabin volume, since no structure to support engine pylons protrudes into the fuselage.
Over the last year, the company has completed numerous milestone tests, including testing of the tailcone-mounted speed brake and extreme heat testing conducted in Arizona. The speed brake spreads forward on each side of the empennage, like a forward opening clamshell. Fujino explains that the system results in less vibration than conventional wing-mounted speed brakes.
In preparation for deliveries, Honda has established nine dealers in North America and Europe. At NBAA2012 this week, it announced a new Canadian dealer, Sky Service, with locations in Toronto, Montreal, and Calgary. Honda also broke ground for a new maintenance, repair, and overhaul facility this fall next to its factory in Greensboro.
AOPA Editor in Chief Tom Haines joined AOPA in 1988. He owns and flies a Beechcraft A36 Bonanza. Since soloing at 16 and earning a private pilot certificate at 17, he has flown more than 100 models of general aviation airplanes.
The quiet exit of two companies from the fractional aircraft market provides further evidence that this is an uncertain path to profit.
You should stick with someone you trust for the long-term maintenance of your aircraft assuming he or she is skilled and thorough. That said, there is significant value to getting a fresh pair of eyes on your airplane every so often.
The FAA must take steps to expedite rulemaking for small unmanned aircraft, AOPA told the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in a Dec. 10 statement.
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