Honda's first ever commercial aircraft, appropriately named the HondaJet, follows in the footsteps of the company's ground-breaking CB750 motorcycle and S600 sports car by aiming to provide superior performance and value - this time in the light business jet market. Continuing an intensive flight test regime to meet U.S. Federal Aviation Authority approval that began one year ago, the latest FAA-conforming test aircraft known as F2 has now begun flight testing out of the company's headquarters at Greensboro's Piedmont Triad International Airport.
F2 made its maiden flight on November 18, 2011, performing a variety of checks during takeoff, climb and cruising phases. These included landing gear operation, flap operations, aircraft handling and air data system checks, followed by an Instrument Landing System (ILS) approach and landing.
"The first flight of a flight test aircraft is an important milestone for an aircraft certification program, and the fact that we achieved F2's first flight shortly after receiving its engines illustrates our team's preparation and readiness," said Michimasa Fujino, President and CEO of Honda Aircraft Company, and the man responsible for the distinctive over-the-wing (rather than under-wing or fuselage-mounted) engine-mount design which goes back to 1997.
Two additional flight test aircraft, the F3 and F4, are expected to be ready in 2012. The company also plans to begin further structural testing with additional structural test aircraft in 2012, so it looks like customer deliveries of the US$3.65 million aircraft - which were originally slated for 2010 - are still some way off.
The first FAA-conforming HondaJet, the F1, which flew for the first time on December 20, 2010, has already achieved key benchmarks that meet or exceed the aircraft's designed performance goals. In March, Honda Aircraft reported the aircraft achieved a maximum speed of 425 KTAS (True Air Speed in Knots - 489 mph) at 30,000 feet, surpassing the company's performance commitment of 420 KTAS. The aircraft has since achieved a climb rate of 4,000 feet per minute, beating its target of 3,990 FPM, and a maximum operating altitude of 43,000 feet.
After nearly fifteen years in development, HondaJet is still claimed to be the most advanced light business jet aircraft, offering advantages in performance, comfort, quality and efficiency. Technological innovations, such as the unique over-the-wing engine-mount configuration for the two GE Honda HF120 turbofan jet engines are claimed to improve performance and fuel efficiency by reducing aerodynamic drag. At the same time, this airframe design reduces noise inside the cabin and on the ground, as well as providing a roomier cabin with greater cargo space compared to a fuselage-mounted engine configuration. The flight deck is also leading edge with the Garmin G3000 next-generation all-glass avionics system, three 14-inch displays and dual touch-screen controllers.
Video of F2 first flight can be viewed at the HondaJet site.