Honda, long established as an automotive giant around the world, has announced that the first production model of its HondaJet has made its initial flight at its headquarters in Greensboro, North Carolina.
The Honda Aircraft Co. said the aircraft took off and landed at the Piedmont Triad International Airport June 27 and soared to 15,500 feet, according to a statement from Honda
. Company officials said they hope the test is the first step to certification and putting its jets into service by next year.
"With this first flight, the HondaJet program has entered the next exciting phase as we prepare for delivery," Honda Aircraft president and CEO Michimasa Fujino said in the company's statement. "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."
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The Japan Times reported
that the small plane, which seats up to five passengers in its standard jet, is being sold in North America and Europe through the HondaJet dealer network. The aircraft, which cost $4.5 million a pop, has already drawn more than 100 orders from businesses and affluent customers.
"The HondaJet is the world's most advanced light business jet aircraft, with best-in-class advantages in performance, comfort, quality and efficiency," said Honda's statement about the aircraft. "The HondaJet is the fastest, highest-flying, quietest and most fuel-efficient jet in its class."
The jet employs what the company calls an "Over-The-Wing Engine Mount configuration," which improves performance and fuel efficiency by reducing aerodynamic drag.
Aviation Today wrote
that Honda will face stiff competition from well-established Cessna in North American. Cessna is already facing light business jet competition this year from Citation M2, which just earned certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency.
"Plenty of automakers have backgrounds in aircraft manufacturing," wrote Noah Joseph of Autoblog.com
. "BMW, Bristol, Mitsubishi, Saab and Spyker all started out in the airplane business. But Honda is going the opposite direction, expanding its automotive (not to mention motorcycle, ATV, marine engine and power equipment) business with the launch of the Honda Jet."
Honda Aircraft, a subsidiary of American Honda Motor Co., was founded in 2006. The company works on its aircraft in a 600,000-square-feet facility where it does research and development, production, administration and customer service.
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