October 11, 2011
By Alton K. Marsh
It was a good news and bad news day for HondaJet during a press conference at the National Business Aviation Association convention in Las Vegas Oct. 10. GE Honda Aero Engines ran into a couple of problems with the HF120 engine that will delay certification until the second half of 2012.
The HF120 engine failed to pass an on-ground ice ingestion test, leading to a redesign. The test involved slab ingestion such as might occur if the engine’s anti-icing system were to fail, said William Dwyer, president of GE Honda Aero Engines. The engine is required to show it can ingest a sizeable chunk, defined by FAA standards, and have “negligible” loss of power. Instead, it kept safely running but had a “perceptible” loss of power, Dwyer said. That led to thicker fan blades and retesting which appears to have solved the problem. However, the time it took to do that delayed other routine tests, and that has contributed to a conservative prediction by HondaJet of a schedule slippage, Dwyer said.
Testing is in progress, and more will be known about the schedule by May or June of 2012. The problem was communicated to position holders in September. Suppliers and the FAA also have been notified, as well as employees. The airplane certification, assuming the engine can be certified by late 2012, could be delayed to 2013.
“We will check at the end of the year for a better update,” said HondaJet spokesman Mark Lee. It is believed the issues are resolved.
The engine certification delay was a surprise on a day when Greensboro, N.C., officials eagerly awaited news of whether the $20 million maintenance repair and overhaul facility would be located in their city. The center will provide services that complement those offered to owners at facilities across the HondaJet dealer network. The facility will add 447 jobs in the Greensboro area.
Also released Oct. 10 was a list of options available to buyers for the cabin, cockpit, and other options.
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