Thursday, December 23, 2010

New Honda Jet Makes First Flight

Honda Motor Co. says the first FAA-conforming version of the small business jet it has been working on for years made its first flight. The plane, called the HondaJet, flew from the company’s Honda Aircraft Co. operation at Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, N.C.

While an earlier version called a proof-of-concept aircraft has logged more than 500 hours of flight testing, flying the version built to Federal Aviation Administration rules is what really counts toward bringing the plane to market.

Honda’s project is part of a renewed and growing intersection between automobiles and aviation that is occurring around personal- and business-transport. Honda touts the same qualities for the plane, such as “dynamic performance” and efficiency, as it does for its cars. The company has said it is essentially applying lessons learned in auto manufacturing to the aircraft business.
Cirrus Aircraft, a longtime maker of small single-engine propeller-driven planes is developing a small jet designed for personal use that it has described as a minivan with wings. Terrafugia, a small aircraft start-up in Woburn, Mass., plans to start selling a flying car called the Transition late next year.

Honda says it will build five FAA-conforming jets for testing before ramping up production in 2012. The company says it has more than 100 orders for the light business jets, which have a top speed around 483 mph and a ceiling of 43,000 feet. Honda plans to deliver the first one in the third quarter of 2012.


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