Honda announced earlier this year that its new HondaJet was delayed due to supplier issues, but it appears the company’s first personal aircraft a plane is moving closer to the production line.
Thus far, two HondaJets have been built for testing, and a third example is almost complete. Although the actual test flight won’t occur until November, two of these three prototype planes will be used in a number of other tests that don’t involve taking to the skies. The first aircraft is currently being tested in ground operation, while a second is undergoing static stress testing. The third HondaJet built is destined for actual in-flight testing of the mechanical systems, while a fourth airframe will likely be subjected to structural fatigue testing.
According to Honda, the ground testing is progressing well, and results are reportedly in line with launching the HondaJet in 2012. Systems that have already passed testing include braking and steering, landing gear deployment, primary navigation functions, and avionics systems — all good news for both Honda and potential customers.
Perhaps even more encouraging are the results from stress testing of the HondaJet,. The second aircraft has now passed FAA tests for the rudder, elevator, load limit of the wings and stabilizer, wing stiffness, landing gear, and fuselage pressure. Honda is conducting further testing at its R&D facility, which is located in Greensboro, North Carolina.
“In addition to the more than 500 hours we have accumulated on the proof of concept HondaJet,” said Michimasa Fujino, president and CEO of Honda Aircraft, “the successful completion of this robust range of static structural stress test on the conforming aircraft significantly reinforces the advantages of the HondaJet’s advanced design.”
Testing the HondaJet requires an incredible amount of advanced technology. Honda designed a test facility specifically for the project, which allows engineers to subject the plane to virtually any kind of flight condition. The stress test machine uses 61 hydraulic actuators and a 2600-channel data acquisition system to instantly measure the stress and strain of the structure on the entire aircraft.
Although Honda has constructed a number of aircraft and is building several more, the factory for the HondaJet is not yet complete. Construction of a factory in Greensboro is occurring concurrently with HondaJet testing. Honda expects the facility to be complete by February 2011, and will be capable of churning out 100 planes per year. According to Honda, it has sold out several years of production for its first-ever, $4.5 million aircraft. Pending FAA approval of the entire plane, deliveries should begin in late 2012.