Honda Aircraft Company has commenced production on the HondaJet business jet. (Earlier post.) During a press conference at the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) annual meeting and convention in Orlando, Fla., the company also highlighted key testing milestones that have been successfully accomplished with the HondaJet moving closer to certification and delivery.
|Honda Aircraft Company President and CEO, Michimasa Fujino, with HondaJet, showing the OTWEM. Click to enlarge.|
The HondaJet Over-The-Wing Engine Mount (OTWEM) configuration reduces wave drag and increases the drag divergence Mach number. It 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) wing and fuselage nose, and a composite fuselage. These innovations combined make the HondaJet the fastest, most spacious and most fuel efficient jet in its class, according to the company.
The HondaJet is powered by two highly fuel-efficient GE Honda HF120 turbofan jet engines.
Honda says that the Honda Aircraft production facility represents its expectation of high quality product delivery with lean activities designed to standardize production work and eliminate defects. The company 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 color while reducing paint thickness in a controlled environment. The system allows for multiple aircraft to be coated with a single batch of paint, maintaining color consistency. The system also pre-heats the paint, resulting 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.
Over the past year, Honda Aircraft has completed various flight, systems and structural tests including: crew seat crash tests, speedbrake testing, ultimate load tests, EASA windshield bird strike testing, wind tunnel icing tests, night lighting testing, etc.
The company recently 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, Ariz., and included critical case tests for both aircraft systems and infrastructure. Recent tests included:
Hot fuel testing. Fuel system operational tests were successfully conducted and demonstrated the HondaJet fuel system’s ability to supply fuel to the engine during elevated temperatures.
Fuselage structure temperature validation. Static heat soak tests measured the environmental impact (e.g., air temperature and solar load) on the aircraft’s fuselage and interior. The HondaJet completed a simulated taxi and takeoff, and the aircraft’s exterior surface was examined to determine temperature profile.
Powerplant cooling and electrical generator cooling. Engine and electrical system tests were successfully conducted at critical accessory loads and temperature environment.
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, N.C., 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. The company’s fifth FAA-conforming aircraft recently completed power-on electrical 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.