HondaJet Program Delayed

GE-Honda engine icing test failure deals jet project a setback.



Honda Aircraft Company president and CEO Michimasa Fujino announced at an NBAA press briefing in Las Vegas that the development program for the company's HF420 light jet has been pushed back due to a delay in the certification of the GE-Honda HF120 engine. Fujino said the delay is due to a redesign project caused by "minor damage" found in the engine during the test phase for icing conditions. Minor or not, the test failure will necessitate a redesign to critical engine components.

Fujino said type certification of the HondaJet is now expected in mid 2013, a delay of nearly a year from original estimates. In 2009 the company announced a similar, one-year delay. Honda has invested approximately $1 billion in the program.

The redesign work will reportedly include a new one-piece fan blade, which will be stronger. Exactly what effect the redesign will have on other components remains to be seen, but even once the new design is up to speed, something that is not expected to take long, Honda will have to redo some of the certification flight testing that it had already finished. Honda expects no changes to the airplane’s projected performance.

The bad news was balanced to some degree by good. Fujino announced a major expansion of HondaJet’s Greensboro, North Carolina, factory, with the addition of an 80,000-square-foot maintenance, repair and overhaul facility. Construction will begin next year and the facility is expected to be complete in the first half of 2013. The expansion adds to the existing 518,894-square-foot facility, which includes buildings for research and development, production and company headquarters. The new MRO facility brings HondaJet’s total infrastructure investment in Greensboro to $120 million.