Honda Aircraft Company has announced that its first production HondaJet has taken to the skies. The flight took place at HondaJet’s headquarters at Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, North Carolina, on Friday at 10:18 am PDT. The test flight moves the executive jet aircraft closer to certification ahead of a planned entry into service next year.

The initial flight was conducted under the command of Honda test pilot Warren Gould and lasted for 84 minutes, during which the aircraft reached an altitude of 15,500 ft (4,700 m) and a speed of 348 knots (400 mph, 644 km/h). During the flight, the crew carried out high and low speed tests of the aircraft’s handling, avionics, landing gear, flaps, speed brakes, and other systems.

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Billed as “the fastest, highest-flying, quietest, and most fuel-efficient jet in its class,” the Hondajet marks Honda’s first tilt at the aircraft business, as well as GE’s return to the executive jet engine field, which it originally entered in the 1960s by converting the J85 military engine for the first Learjets.

The HondaJet's lightweight carbon composite fuselage seats up to five and has a 12.15 m (39.8 ft) wingspan and overall length of 12.7 m (41.6 ft). It also boasts a cruising speed of 778 km/h (483 mph, 420 knots) and a range of 2,593 km (1,611 mi, 1,400 nm).

According to Honda, the GE Honda HF120 over-the-wing turbofan jet engines combined with the wing’s laminar flow design and the composite fuselage reduce aerodynamic drag, producing greater efficiency, improved fuel economy, less noise inside and out of the cabin, and more interior space. The aircraft is certified for single-pilot operation and has a new glass flight deck with a bespoke Garmin G3000 avionics system.

The first production jet sported the new HondaJet livery of deep green pearl with a gold stripe, though the aircraft is available in a choice of colors. Honda plans to make the plane ready for market in Europe and North America as soon as it obtains certification.

"With this first flight, the HondaJet program has entered the next exciting phase as we prepare for delivery," says Honda Aircraft Company President and CEO Michimasa Fujino. "Today's celebration is the culmination of extensive engineering and production efforts, and this is an important achievement in bringing the world's most advanced light jet to market.”

Source: HondaJet

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