October 21, 2013
By Alton K. Marsh
HondaJet President and CEO Michimasa Fujino charmed his way through a press conference in Las Vegas Oct. 21 as he detailed the rapid advances his company is making in hopes of claiming its share of the light jet market. The press conference came at the start of the National Business Aircraft Association's yearly convention.
Saying that he is also an engineer, he drew a laugh when he mentioned that he had personally done some of the testing of the aircraft’s systems and found them to be excellent.
The HondaJet is on its very last battery of tests involving fatigue testing. Type certification is expected one year after the engine is certified, and the once-troubled engine could be certified before the end of the year.
There are six jets completed that conform to production specifications. Four are used for flight testing, while two are used for structural tests. There are six more aircraft on the assembly line that belong to the first customers.
Next year the company will begin to double its present workforce of 850 people. It has 605,000 square feet of factory space under roof, and a complex of 133 acres in Greensboro, N.C. The “new” news at the press conference was that efforts are in progress to establish HondaJet Finance, a company that will aid customers wanting to buy the $4.5 million jet (in 2010 dollars).
In describing how the engines are started by the push of one button, Fujino explained that he designed the aircraft to be like a sports car. Several reporters in the room asked to be among the first to experience the jet during media flights. No media flights are planned as yet.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
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There is no shortage of pilots in eastern Washington, but there does seem to be a scarcity of clubs in that part of the country.
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