Laughter, tears and many standing ovations filled one of HondaJet’s hangars at its headquarters in Greensboro, North Carolina, as a huge crowd of onlookers celebrated the FAA type certification of the light jet. HondaJet employees and suppliers; federal, state, and city government officials; and media watched as a humbled Michimasa Fujino, president and CEO of Honda Aircraft, received the coveted TC document from FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “This is one of the most expensive papers,” Fujino said.
To say it was a momentous occasion would be an understatement. “If I may use a Japanese expression, it is the crystal of sweat and tears,” Fujino said. Fujino first started the aviation project for Honda in 1986, but said Honda Aircraft began operations in earnest in 2005. That year the company employed fewer than 50 people, a number that has grown to 1,700 employees today.
Kenny G made a surprise entrance and impressed the crowd with his saxophone performance before bringing up Fujino on stage. The performer, who is a pilot and has flown the jet, praised the HondaJet’s climb performance, maneuverability and ergonomics.
Fujino spoke about how Kenny G’s music helped him through the tough times. While working on what he described the first jet in 1993, Fujino said there was a six-month period before first flight when he was working day and night, seven days a week. “Sometimes I [feel] like I couldn’t even breathe,” he said. He found Kenny G’s album “Breathless” and purchased it. Fujino asked the performer to play a song called “Morning” as he said there were days when he was not sure whether the morning could come. And, with tears streaming down his face, there was no doubt that Fujino meant what he said.
The first delivery is expected soon and Fujino said the company plans to ramp up production to three to four jets per month next year.