Honda Motor Co. has taken to the skies with its first business jet that conforms to Federal Aviation Administration standards -- a development that launches the federal certification process.
Honda Aircraft Co., a unit of the Japanese automaker, announced today that its first HondaJet aircraft that can apply for FAA certification lifted off Monday.
The flight marks a significant step for Honda Aircraft, which operates out of Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, N.C. The company flew its first jet in 2003, but without FAA approval the aircraft could not be sold commercially.
Honda’s new version of the jet was built with parts that meet FAA standards. That means the jet can be used for FAA certification tests.
CEO Michimasa Fujino called the 51-minute flight a milestone for the company.
“We are very encouraged by our initial review of the flight data, which indicates the conforming HondaJet performed as expected,” he said in a statement.
Since announcing its intentions to build the light business jets, Honda Aircraft says it has received more than 100 orders. Delivery is scheduled for the third quarter of 2012.
The company already has completed a second FAA-conforming jet and is working on a third for early 2011. A total of five jets are planned to support the HondaJet FAA-certification program. Three will be used for in-flight testing and two will be used for ground stress testing.
Honda Aircraft spokesman Stephen Keeney says the company has already begun the FAA-certification application process, and it can take 12 to 18 months.
The HondaJet uses a design for over-the-wing engine mounting that Honda says will improve performance and fuel efficiency by reducing drag.
The aircraft category of light business include such competitors as Bombardier Aerospace’s Learjet 40 and 45 and Cessna Aircraft Co.’s Encore. The HondaJet will cost $4.5 million.