The first production HondaJet business jet took off from an airstrip at Honda Aircraft’s global headquarters in Greensboro, NC, last Friday. The flight was part of FAA certification and the company expects the aircraft will enter service in 2015.
The maiden voyage also marked GE’s return to the executive jet business, a market the company helped create in the 1960s when engineers converted the J85 military jet engine into propulsion for the first Learjet.
The HondaJet uses a pair of distinctive jet engines jointly developed by GE and Honda and mounted over the wing. With 18.5 inches in diameter and 2,095 pounds of thrusts, the jet engine, called HF120, is the smallest in GE’s portfolio. The engine received its FAA certification last year.
“With this first flight, the HondaJet program has entered the next exciting phase as we prepare for delivery,” said Michimasa Fujino, Honda Aircraft’s president and chief executive.
The company says that the plane’s engine and wing design, composite fuselage and other advanced technologies make it the fastest, most spacious and most fuel efficient jet in its class. Fujino says that the HondaJet is “the world’s most advanced light jet.”
During the 84-minute flight, the plane climbed to 15,500 feet and reached a speed of 348 knots (about 400 mph). The crew completed several checks during the flight, including low-speed and high-speed handling characteristics, avionics and functionality of systems such as landing gear, flaps and speed brake operations.
The HondaJet is designed to fly at a maximum speed of 420 knots (483 mph) and a maximum altitude of 43,000 feet. It seats up to five passengers and has a range of 1,357 miles. The company selling it in North American and Europe through its dealer network.
Honda Aircraft’s manufacturing plant and airport in Greensboro, NC.