Honda Aircraft has begun flying its fifth conforming HondaJet aircraft, but its certification is likely still more than a year away.
GE Honda pushed back certification of the HF120 engine that will power the HondaJet until later this year, which means most certification flight trials cannot begin until that point. Honda Aircraft continues to fly the aircraft, and President and CEO Michimasa Fujino says some of the work accomplished will count toward certification, but most of the certification flights will begin after engine certification.
The engine has one major test to accomplish before that point – medium bird ingestion. Fujino says the company continues to make progress with development and has begun production in the meantime. His main concern surrounding the delay, he says, was customer expectations. But he is pleased the program has had “minimum cancellations.”
Meanwhile, the fifth conforming aircraft flew on May 16 from HondaJet’s headquarters in Greensboro, N.C. During the 60-min. flight, the aircraft climbed to 12,000 ft. and reached a top speed of 300 kt. true airspeed. The aircraft will be used for function and reliability testing.
The company has checked off a number of testing milestones, including flutter, cold-weather, and stall testing.
Honda also has a number of aircraft already in production, and expects to have six to seven aircraft in process by the end of the year, with a few of those completed. By the time the aircraft is certified, Honda hopes to have seven to eight completed by certification. But Fujino cautions that each aircraft will still need to obtain certification.
Honda is also progressing on its facilities, already amassing a campus spanning 514,000 sq. ft. in Greensboro, where 800 people are employed. The facilities are designed to produce more than 100 aircraft per year, with the production target – once ramp up is complete – reaching between 80-90.