Honda Aircraft Company revealed the first production HondaJet at the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva, Switzerland. (Earlier post.) The company also shared its progress in preparation for HondaJet entry into service.
|First production jet with new color scheme. 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 first production aircraft is in final assembly with the first set of production GE Honda HF120 engines recently delivered by GE Honda Aero Engines (a 50/50 joint venture between GE and Honda) to Honda Aircraft. To date, the HF120 has accumulated more than 15,000 cycles and close to 10,000 hours of testing. Rated at 2,095 pounds of thrust, the HF120 engine is designed to set new standards of performance in fuel efficiency, durability, and low noise and emissions.
HF120 technologies include:
A wide-chord, compound, swept front fan blisk, along with composite outlet guide vanes.
A high-temperature titanium impeller in the compressor for maximum engine pressure ratio and stall-free performance.
A compact reverse-flow configuration combustor and single-stage air-blast fuel nozzles.
Advanced materials in the high-pressure (HP) turbine as well as a two-stage low-pressure (LP) turbine and a counter rotating HP and LP spool shaft system.
The engines have been installed, and Honda Aircraft will soon begin conducting ground tests on the airplane. Its first flight is anticipated this summer.
HondaJet production continues its steady pace in advance of entry into service with nine aircraft on the final assembly line. Four aircraft have been mated to their wings and empennages, and production is on schedule to have 10 aircraft on the final assembly line in June. This steady build up supports Honda Aircraft Company’s objective to have aircraft ready for delivery immediately after type certification is achieved next year.
Following the FAA’s issuance of Type Inspection Authorization (TIA) for the HondaJet, the program has begun testing with FAA pilot participation. Several certification tests by FAA pilots were conducted under this final phase. Examples are:
Stall speed, stall characteristics and stall warning system: Tests were conducted under various flight conditions. During testing, the stall warning system (stick shaker attached to the yoke) and stall protection system (stick pusher that provides automatic stall recovery) were evaluated. Cockpit indications for airspeed, altitude and ambient temperature were also validated.
Wheels, tires and brake control system tests: Normal anti-skid brake control systems were evaluated in both wet and dry runway conditions. Emergency brake system testing also demonstrated aircraft braking capability during degraded system operations.
Flap actuation system and speed brake operation throughout the flight envelope: Testing demonstrated aircraft flap and speed brake operation at limit speeds and maximum load factor.
Hydraulic system control tests were conducted during normal, abnormal and degraded operations: The hydraulic system was demonstrated at the maximum operating altitude and after extended periods of high-altitude cold soaking.
In-flight fire suppression system: This testing was conducted at critical flight conditions for both speed and temperature.
FAA Full-Scale Fatigue Testing: The ground structural test program has completed more than 2,000 cycles so far in advance of entry into service. This is equivalent to more than five years of use for typical business jet operators. Testing examined the airframe’s fatigue strength under simulated in-flight operations derived from theoretical load spectra and mission profiles. The tests evaluated the effects of vertical and lateral maneuvers; vertical and lateral gust; landing; taxi; Ground-Air-Ground (GAG) and fuselage pressure cycle on the aircraft. This testing was conducted at Honda Aircraft Company’s R&D facility in Greensboro, N.C., using a sophisticated structural test system that can simultaneously operate 73 hydraulic actuators and cabin pressurization in a closed loop digital control system using force, pressure or displacement as the feedback parameters.
Honda Aircraft Company also announced at EBACE that Fokker Aerostructures will supply the empennage structure for the HondaJet. Fokker was selected based on its expertise in the manufacturing of tail sections for business jets with a global supply chain network.
Honda Aircraft is putting significant effort and investment into pilot and maintenance training for customers. Working with FlightSafety International, Honda Aircraft is currently developing flight and maintenance training curriculums with maintenance training classes scheduled to begin later this year in Greensboro, N.C. The first flight simulator for flight training is complete and software integration is underway. Flight training with this simulator will include type rating and recurrent pilot training programs for both single and multi-crew operations. Training will be provided at Honda Aircraft Company’s world headquarters and will start before entry into service.