Honda Aircraft Company announced today that it has commenced production of the much anticipated HondaJet, the world’s most advanced light jet aircraft. During a press conference at the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) annual meeting and convention in Orlando, Florida, the company also highlighted key testing milestones that have been successfully accomplished, enabling the HondaJet to move closer to certification and delivery.
Testing milestones achieved Over the past year, Honda Aircraft has completed various flight, systems and structural tests on HondaJet including crew seat crash tests, speedbrake testing, ultimate load tests, EASA windshield bird strike testing, wind tunnel icing tests and night lighting testing.
The company recently further completed the first in a series of remote testing to validate the HondaJet aircraft’s performance under extreme temperatures. Hot-weather flight tests were conducted in Yuma, Arizona, and included critical case tests for both aircraft systems and infrastructure such as hot fuel testing, fuselage structure temperature validation and powerplant and electrical generator cooling.
To assist in remote location testing of the HondaJet, a 42-foot, custom telemetry vehicle entered service in October. The mobile telemetry truck was designed to duplicate the telemetry capabilities at Honda Aircraft’s world headquarters in Greensboro, North Carolina, and is a fully self-contained telemetry system used to monitor aircraft data during flight testing. The truck has six work stations for analysts to monitor real-time test data within a 200 nautical mile range of the aircraft and allows year-round operation at remote sites. Test aircraft expansion Earlier this year in May, Honda Aircraft announced the successful test flight completion of the fourth FAA-conforming test aircraft and more recently, the company’s fifth FAA-conforming aircraft completed power-on electrical testing and weight-on-wheels testing. This aircraft is on schedule to be released to flight test early next year. Now in final assembly, it will be the first HondaJet to have a full production interior. An additional structural test aircraft, the company’s sixth FAA-conforming aircraft, will also join the test fleet next year.
Honda Aircraft’s test program currently includes four FAA-conforming HondaJet aircraft: three actively flying test aircraft and one ground test aircraft, which was exclusively used for structural testing and recently retired from the program after successfully completing ultimate load tests. Production start with steady progress Honda Aircraft continues to make steady progress toward delivery of the first customer aircraft. The Honda Aircraft production facility in North Carolina represents Honda’s expectation of high quality product delivery with lean activities designed to standardise production work and eliminate defects. The company has developed and implemented its own production process improvement device, focused on operator work instructions while on the assembly floor. Instructions are presented on a tablet device, allowing technicians to see a graphical interface that is easy to read and is specifically designed to the individual tasks. The device reduces the need for printed materials and ensures real-time change management on the floor.
The production facility will also employ an innovative, on-site paint mixing system designed to achieve optimum colour while reducing paint thickness in a controlled environment. At the push of a button, this advanced system allows for multiple aircraft to be coated with a single batch of paint, maintaining colour consistency. The system also pre-heats the paint, which results in a superior aesthetic quality.
Honda Aircraft has also implemented the Automatic Guided Cart (AGC). The AGC is similar to a mobile robot and is designed to pick up and deliver parts to the production facility’s unique assembly areas. The AGC will allow for safe, on-demand material delivery and coordinated parts flow to production technicians. Established product support and customer service processes For aircraft after-market support, the company recently broke ground on a new, 90,000-square-foot Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility, located adjacent to the existing Honda Aircraft Company World Headquarters in Greensboro, North Carolina. The MRO will provide a 24/7 support centre and can simultaneously service up to 12 HondaJet aircraft. The facility, expected for occupancy in the second half of 2013, will complement the existing network of HondaJet dealers with all locations delivering the same customer service experience. This expansion will bring the company’s total campus footprint to 600,000 square feet and more than 130 acres. Flight Simulation To facilitate pilot training as the HondaJet approaches entry into service, Honda Aircraft has partnered with FlightSafety® International, the world’s leading aviation training organisation, to manufacture a full motion flight simulator which will be installed at the Greensboro headquarters during early 2013. Recognised for pioneering aircraft innovation In September, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) awarded its revered Award for Aircraft Design to Honda Aircraft Company President and CEO Michimasa Fujino. Fujino was recognised by the AIAA for pioneering the optimum HondaJet Over-The-Wing Engine Mount (OTWEM) configuration that reduces wave drag and increases drag divergence Mach number.
The HondaJet OTWEM configuration also maximizes aircraft cabin space, increases cruise fuel efficiency, and reduces interior sound and exterior noise. Other significant HondaJet innovations include a natural-laminar flow (NLF) nose section and wing leading edge, and a composite fuselage. These innovations combined make the HondaJet the fastest, most spacious and most fuel efficient jet in its class.
Honda Aircraft President and CEO Michimasa Fujino said, “An assembly line for HondaJet production is in place, major aircraft components including the fuselage and wings have been produced and we have started assembly of the first customer aircraft. Commencing production is the most important milestone in the HondaJet program to date, with only the future Federal Aviation Administration Type Certification and first customer delivery ranking greater in significance.” He continued, “Honda is known for its methodical approach in engineering and processes. To this end, our commitment to deliver the best possible product that will bring new value to aviation remains. We have taken the necessary time and effort with the HondaJet program to do it right and give our customers the finest product with the best ownership experience possible.”