On December 8, 2015, Honda Aircraft Company and GE Honda Aero Engines accomplished an aviation milestone. The HondaJet received airplane type certification of the HA-420 model from the FAA. At GE aviation, we are proud and passionate about our purpose, and this truly is an example of “inventing the future of flight.”
For Honda, this journey started back in 1986, when the founder of Honda, Soichiro Honda, declared that the company would pursue the field of aviation by creating an airplane. The Honda Company had already become famous for 2-wheeled motorcycles and 4-wheel automobiles, and now they would pursue a dream to power three wheeled airplanes. A young man named Michimasa Fujino was sent to the USA to start the project. Fujino-san made his famous sketch of the airplane with the engines mounted “over the wing.” Back in Japan, Honda R&D was working on the development of a gas turbine engine to power their future airplane. Several years passed, and by 2003 they had developed the fifth generation turbofan engine known as the HF118 power plant.
In 2004, Honda Aero Inc. approached GE Aviation to create a new Joint Venture company called GE Honda Aero Engines Inc., which was to be a 50/50 JV, bringing the best of both the GE Company and the Honda Company. The deal was signed in October 2004. Work on the engine program continued and led to a redesign of the engine into what is known today as the HF120 turbofan engine. GE Honda Aero Engines received type certificate in December 2013 and first flight of an HF120 powered HA-420 Hondajet occurred in 2014.
The Honda Aircraft Company Inc., (HACI) established their presence in Greensboro NC. From humble beginnings, where a small local team was backed by an engineering team in Japan, work progressed on the airplane program. The majority of the work occurred over an 18-year period from 1997 through 2015. A significant amount of money was invested to complete all the required certification tests needed to earn a Type Certificate. Today HACI has a workforce of over 1700 people, which 1350 in Greensboro alone. The facility is one of the most modern in the world, including a state-of-the-art Customer Delivery and Support facility.
HACI held a celebration event on the evening of December 9 at their grand facility. Over 2000 people were in the audience, including State, Local and Federal dignitaries, the representatives of the 12 world-wide dealerships helping to sell and service the HondaJets, the key suppliers (including GHAE), and the employees of HACI. Kenny G performed at the event, and played a tribute song for Mr. Fujino, which was so moving that it brought Mr. Fujino to tears. These were tears of joy, that his lifelong pursuit of bringing a new modern airplane to the market was finally achieved after 30-years of dedicated work. GE Aviation and Honda Aero Engines leadership were personally thanked by Mr. Fujino for all the hard work put into bringing the HF120 to market and help to make the HA-420 such a successful airplane.
Now that the engine and airplane have their type certificate from the FAA, the next step is entry into service. HondaJets will soon be delivered to customers that have been waiting for their airplanes to show up. GHAE and HACI have developed a strong network of deals that will provide customer excellence to the operators.