Honda Aircraft Open House
If anyone doubts Honda Motor Company’s commitment to the overall aviation business, a visit to Honda Aircraft’s new 623,000-sq-ft factory at Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, N.C., underscores the numerous investment the corporate has created. The $100 million spent on the new facilities doesn’t embody what proportion has been spent on personnel (700 currently, expected to grow to concerning one,000 as production ramps up), equipment and therefore the development and certification program for the sunshine HondaJet. Honda Aircraft gave members of the media a tour of the new facility on July twelve.
It is fascinating to draw a comparison between another company that achieved some success within the terribly light-weight jet marketplace, Eclipse Aviation, that designed 260 jets before going bankrupt. (Eclipse Aerospace has resumed support for the program and plans to resume production at some purpose.) Eclipse Aviation founder Vern Raburn boasted of orders for thousands of EA-500 jets, however the Albuquerque, N.M., facilities that were to possess created that attainable spanned a fraction of the world lined by the new Honda Aircraft campus. And Honda Aircraft president and CEO Michimasa Fujino, who never brags concerning the HondaJet, has acknowledged solely “more than one hundred orders” for the new jet. Fujino comes production ramp-up to seventy to one hundred airplanes per year 2 to a few years when certification and 1st deliveries, that are scheduled to start within the third quarter of next year. Honda is clearly serious concerning aviation and putting the mandatory cash into the HondaJet program.
Flight and Ground Testing
While Fujino has been acting on coming up with new aircraft since 1986 and 1st sketched the HondaJet with its uncommon (but not pioneering) over-the-wing engine mounting configuration in 1997, Honda founder Soichiro Honda had forever needed to enter the aerospace business. the corporate created many tries, starting within the Sixties, however the founder never saw his dreams come back to fruition.
Now, Honda Aircraft is accelerating toward next year’s planned 1st delivery, and far of the new production facility is being ready for the ramp-up. The campus includes 3 main buildings, the headquarters building within the center, flanked by the R&D facility and therefore the production facility, each of that face the airport’s runways.
Inside the R&D facility, technicians are busy assembling FAA-conforming HondaJets for flight and ground testing. 2 airframes are completed, the primary flight-test jet (F1), that took to the skies on Dec. 20, 2010, and a static-test article (ST1) that’s currently ensconced within the R&D’s facility’s structural take a look at equipment. 2 additional flight-test jets (F2 and F3) are nearing completion. F2 can fly shortly and F3 later this year, followed by ST2 early next year, to be used for extra static and fatigue testing.
Cockpit and Cabin style
Also housed within the R&D facility is that the style studio, where Chris Osborne, manager of the interiors cluster, is refining the HondaJet’s cockpit and cabin layout. the assembly interior has been finalized and is on show in one among 2 fuselage mockups within the style studio. guests to last year’s NBAA Convention or this year’s Ebace show saw the assembly interior. “Customers are impressed,” said Osborne. “A heap of shoppers are programmed that the mockup isn’t constant because the final product [on alternative jet programs].”
The interior mockup is employed within the certification program however conjointly to assist production personnel train for completions, which can be drained the assembly facility. Honda Aircraft has conjointly been ready to use the inside mockup for human-factors evaluations, each of the cabin and cockpit. “The FAA is impressed at how we tend to [evaluated] human factors early,” Osborne said.
Osborne, who has worked for Honda for over twenty years, primarily in automotive interior style, is obsessive concerning the tiniest detail. One example is that the B/E Aerospace crew seats within the cockpit, that feature thigh adjusters to line the quantity of tension on the forward portion of the seat, which may tilt down because the pilot applies pressure to the rudders or brakes. this can be a traditional feature on abundant larger jets, however Osborne felt it had been necessary for crew comfort. The crew seats even have lumbar adjustment, and therefore the seat back is vertically adjustable so pilots will get the positioning of the lumbar pressure good.
Another cockpit example is that the bezel round the Garmin G3000 touchscreen controllers, that Honda Aircraft engineers helped style. The bezel provides a set location for the pilot’s fingers, aiding the targeting of the proper icon on the touchscreen and providing an anchor for muscle memory therefore the pilot will realize a touchscreen location simply nearly while not wanting. The mockups benefitted from Honda Aircraft’s use of a simulation program that renders the inside in mind-boggling detail, four times that of a high-resolution monitor, permitting engineers to judge the play of sunshine and shadow across each component.
The HondaJet’s over-the-wing engine mount style (first seen on the Seventies VFW-Fokker VFW 614) eliminates the narrowing of the aft fuselage required for aerodynamic optimization on ancient business jet styles, creating area for an internal bathroom and huge external baggage compartment. Combined with Honda Aircraft’s own natural laminar flow airfoil, the over-the-wing mount delays drag rise abundant later than even a clean-wing style with none engines, consistent with Fujino. HondaJet F1 has borne out the performance projections, as well as forty three,000-foot most altitude and a climb rate of three,990 fpm. The $4.5 million GE Honda HF120-powered HondaJet, with area for seven occupants, exceeded Honda Aircraft’s 420-knot most speed target by 5 knots.
The tour conjointly included the structural take a look at facility, the delivery center and therefore the aircraft systems integration take a look at facility, that simulates the aircraft’s systems and performance, as well as the G3000 avionics. within the telemetry area within the headquarters building, engineers displayed recorded pictures from previous take a look at flights (none were being conducted at the time of the tour). The telemetry systems record thousands of knowledge parameters and multiple video feeds in real time. Engineers will see into the cockpit via the video feeds, as well as observing the position of the take a look at jet on the jet’s G3000 moving map.
The final-assembly section of the assembly facility building is being ready for volume production, with setup of jigs below approach. The HondaJet’s composite fuselage is manufactured by GKN Aerospace in Tallassee, Ala., and therefore the aluminum empennage by Hampson within the UK. Honda Aircraft is producing wings in-house for currently, however may however opt for a provider, consistent with Fujino. Honda Aircraft is doing all avionics, paint and interior completions in Greensboro. The paint booths feature the most recent technology, as well as elevators that rise from the ground to facilitate painting the underside of the jet. there’s enough area to create eighteen jets at a time within the production facility throughout 2 shifts, however that might be expanded to twenty four if necessary.
For Fujino, the approaching certification and 1st delivery of the HondaJet are going to be a dream come back true. “Not all engineers have the chance to style a brand new airplane,” he said. “[Soichiro] Honda had a dream of aviation. My dream has become a dream for Honda and even for the japanese folks and later for the yank folks.” whereas it had been too late to indicate the founding father of the corporate what Honda Aircraft has accomplished, Fujino visited Honda’s wife when he died and showed her a model of the HondaJet. “She said if he was alive, how happy he would be,” Fujino recalled.