Honda’s first foray into the world of personal aircraft, the HondaJet, has reached another milestone in its long development process. Testing confirmed that the plane will reach a maximum operating altitude of 43,000 feet. Honda also announced that the jet managed a maximum speed of 489 mph in testing over North Carolina.
“Our flight test data indicate that the aircraft is performing as expected, and our team continues to work hard to realize additional performance milestones as we move forward,” Honda Aircraft President and CEO Michimasa Fujino said in a statement.
It’s a big milestone for the Japanese company’s first ever airplane. The HondaJet is an FAA-approved personal jet that is being built from the ground up. It is powered by two GE Honda turbofan jet engines, and the company claims its low-drag design will make the HondaJet more fuel-efficient and quieter than other similar planes.
Six testing jets have been built so far, each serving to evaluate a different aspect of the plane’s development test. The first plane, known as the F1, was used for the altitude and velocity tests. A third, known internally as F2, will be used for flight testing starting this summer. The sixth plane, F4, will first fly in spring 2012 in order for Honda to perform cabin systems and reliability testing. The second plane was already used for fatigue testing, and the fifth will undergo more stress tests in early 2012.
Having first announced the plane back in 2006, Honda originally planned to launch the HondaJet in 2011, but supplier issues meant the date had to be pushed back. The $4.5 million HondaJet is now scheduled to begin deliveries by the third quarter of 2012. Honda has previously claimed that the first several years of production are already sold out. It will be assembled at an all-new 263,400 square-foot facilityin North Carolina that was opened earlier this year.