The first FAA-conforming HA-420 HondaJet has successfully completed its maiden flight, signaling the start of flight-testing to support certification of the aircraft. The milestone took place on December 20 with the aircraft taking off from the Honda Aircraft Company's world headquarters at the Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, North Carolina, for a flight that lasted 51 minutes.

During the maiden flight, the HondaJet's flight characteristics and performance were analyzed and system checks were conducted, with various test data transmitted in real-time to Honda's flight test telemetry operations base within the company's headquarters.

"We are very encouraged by our initial review of the flight data, which indicates the conforming HondaJet performed as expected. As we move forward, we will continue to focus all of our efforts and energy to deliver to our customers the most advanced light business jet yet created," said Michimasa Fujino, Honda Aircraft Company President and CEO.

As part of Honda's certification program for the HondaJet, the company has also completed its second FAA-conforming aircraft, which has already undergone numerous structural tests required for the commencement of certification flight-testing. Work is also underway on a third aircraft to be completed in early 2011, which is now in the systems installation phase and will be mainly used for mechanical systems flight-testing.

A total of five FAA-conforming aircraft, including one additional flight-test aircraft and one additional structural test aircraft, are planned as part of the HondaJet certification program.

The HondaJet has been in development since 1997 when Fujino first sketched the design. The proof-of-concept aircraft made its first flight in December 2003 and has since racked up more than 500 flight test hours. In 2007 the company revealed the interior design concept for the aircraft which is slated for delivery in 2012.

Honda is also nearing completion of its 266,000 square foot (24,712 m2) aircraft production facility on its Greensboro campus that is scheduled for completion in early 2011. Upon completion, the company fit will begin the process of moving equipment and personnel into the facility and begin ramping up production.

View gallery - 7 images