October 22, 2013
GE Honda Aero Engines expects to achieve its long-awaited FAA certification for the HF120 turbofan by year-end, paving the way for the start of initial production in coming months.
“We submitted the final two certification reports to the FAA last week,” says GE Honda Aero Engines President Terry Sharp. “On September 3 we held the interim type board meeting at which they [FAA] endorsed the type certificate plan and granted readiness for engine type inspection approval [TIA]. So we have line of sight to full type cert by end of year.
“It’s been a tough program, but the team came through in the end,” adds Sharp. The engine, which is destined for the HA-420 HondaJet light jet, will enter limited production in GE’s Lynn, Mass., facility by early next year. Full-rate production is expected to transfer to Honda Aero’s Burlington, N.C., facility in the second half of 2014 following the granting of the site’s production certificate.
A supply chain production readiness review has been completed in advance of assembly, says Masahiko Izumi, evp, GE Honda Aero Engines, who adds, “We are approaching the finish line.” The first kits of parts will be delivered to the assembly site at the end of the month. Production assembly workstations are being prepared, and production assembly planning has been achieved using paperless instructions and data recording. Test cells are also being fitted in Burlington in advance of the transition next year.
Overall, 13 engines were used in certification, with over 12,000 cycles and 8,500 test hours accumulated to date. This compares with 7,000 cycles and 5,500 test hours amassed by this time in 2012 and represents the GE-Honda focus on building up endurance time with a dedicated evaluation engine. “There was a quick ramp in cycles and hours last year primarily because we added an engine to build up cyclic test hours. There’s no intention to rest on our laurels and flatline. We intend to conduct engineering endurance testing ahead of the fleet with another engine, which will run for a further 5,000 cycles,” Sharp says.
The endurance engine was torn down and inspected. “The results of the teardown were pleasing – we found some issues we can work on but nothing significant,” he says.