FAA-conforming HondaJet makes first flight

Honda has completed the successful first flight of its FAA-conforming HondaJet light business jet. The event is a significant step in Honda's plan to start delivering aircraft in 3Q2012.

The first conforming HondaJet lifted off on Dec 20 from Honda Aircraft Company's facility at GSO (Intl, Greensboro NC). The aircraft remained aloft for 51 min. Michimasa Fujino, Honda Aircraft Pres & CEO says, "We are very encouraged by our initial review of the flight data, which indicates the conforming Honda­Jet performed as expected."

To support the company's certification program, Honda has completed a 2nd FAA-conforming aircraft, which has already undergone numerous structural tests required for commencement of certification flight testing. Honda has also completed mating of main assemblies for its 3rd FAA-conforming aircraft, which is now in the systems installation phase of completion. This 3rd conforming aircraft will be used mainly for mechanical systems flight testing and is currently scheduled to be completed in early 2011.

A total of 5 FAA-conforming aircraft, including one additional flight test aircraft and an additional structural test aircraft, are planned to support the HondaJet certification program. The firm says it has orders for "well over 100" $4.5-million HondaJets.

According to the Aerospace Industries Assn (AIA), the US aerospace industry scored a solid financial performance in 2010 despite a slip in civil aircraft sales, and profitability is predicted to continue into 2011. Speaking at the 46th annual year-end review and forecast luncheon on Dec 15, AIA Pres & CEO Marion Blakey (shown above) said total aero­space sales in 2010 will likely top $216 billion—a new record for the 7th straight year. She noted that a decline in civil aircraft sales was offset by continued strong growth of military aircraft sales and improved sales of missiles and space-related products. Total sales for the aerospace sector are predicted to climb to nearly $220 billion in 2011. The civil aerospace category includes commercial transports, GA aircraft, civil helicopters and their engines. Civil sales dropped nearly 6% in 2010 to $48.2 billion. A rebound is expected in 2011 but will hinge on several factors, including the economy and the price of jet fuel. "One of the bright lights we see on the horizon is a rebound in civil sales with an increase to $50 billion," said Blakey, who noted that this figure is still short of the pre-recession 2007 levels. In the business jet sector, she confirmed the observation that high-end jets are doing fine while "more modest" jets are struggling to build sales momentum.

Industry

Gulfstream will expand its SAV (Savannah GA) facilities through a 7-year, $500-million plan to meet future demand for business jet aircraft and support services. The growth is expected to result in 1000 additional jobs there—an increase of more than 15% from Gulfstream's current SAV pay­roll of approximately 5500 employees.

"With our own sales trends and market forecasts suggesting an upturn over the next decade, we want to ensure Gulfstream is well-positioned to meet the demand in terms of products and services," says Gulfstream Pres Joe Lombardo. "We are already beginning to see signs of a modest recovery. In 3Q2010, we booked more orders than we had in any quarter since the downturn began in mid-2008." Lom­bardo adds, "This expansion is necessary to meet the projected increase for new business jet aircraft and the maintenance that will follow."

Hawker Beechcraft will keep its aircraft operations in Kansas for the next 10 years as part of a $45-million deal brokered with state and local officials. In return for an incentives package, the firm has agreed to maintain its current aircraft lines and keep at least 4000 jobs in the state during the next decade.

CEO Bill Boisture says, "We are com­mitting to the further success of Hawker Beechcraft as a Wichita-based private company and we are preserving a valued American industry in tomorrow's aviation market." Louisiana had tried to lure the company from Kansas.

Jeppesen has introduced a new situational awareness enroute application featuring worldwide real-time weather service as a new component of its FliteDeck Pro electronic flight bag (EFB) solution.

The new service features graphical and text weather display options designed to enhance air safety and streamline operational efficiency. The new EFB enroute application features weather data overlaid graphically with the route of a flightplan. An "intuitive" design interface allows the enroute application to display the same weather data when on the ground or in the air. The new enroute application also supports XM satellite and Internet connections available through FliteDeck Pro's open design and simple data integration framework.

Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) will invest more than $1 billion in research and development over the next 5 years to develop the next generation of high-performance aircraft engines. These technologies will be leveraged across P&WC's product lines for new turbofan, turboprop and turboshaft engines for business, region­al and helicopter applications.

Emirates-CAE Flight Training (ECFT) has signed a contract with Gainjet Aviation for Gulfstream G450/G550 and Bombardier Global Express pilot training at the Dubai center. ECFT is jointly operated by the Emirates Group and CAE and is located close to DXB (Dubai, UAE). The facility offers full-flight simulator training to aircraft operators in the Middle East, Europe, Africa and Asia.

Manifest

Gulfstream has promoted Christine Manka Williams (L) to senior operations manager, refurbishment. Williams implements process changes and oversees the work performed in the service center trim, wood, finish and paint shops. Separately, L D Buerger is now director, G650 initial phase operations, accountable for manufacturing, engineering and planning, industrial engineering and tool design for the G650, which is scheduled to enter service in 2012.

JetFlite Intl has appointed Pat Marano as vp business development for the eastern US. The company has also hired Michael Rogers for the new position of vp customer service.

Hawker Beechcraft has named Terry Harrell and Justin Ladner as vice presidents and general managers of its special mission product line.

FlightSafety Intl has named David Glass and Fabio Miguez as managers of the learning centers in Houston and Detroit Metro/Toledo, respectively.

Vincent Zarrella has been named director of customer service at Piper Aircraft. Jim Slaton will assume the role of senior manager, parts sales.

Dassault Falcon has appointed Bernard Delouÿe as customer service manager for Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Jordan and Syria. He will be based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Delouÿe is a former foreign defense industry consultant.


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