Plenty of automakers have backgrounds in aircraft manufacturing. BMW, Bristol, Mitsubishi, Saab andSpyker 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 HondaJet. And that project has just taken a big step forward.
After starting production a year and a half ago, the Japanese industrial giant recently completed its first customer HondaJet, and has now taken that initial production aircraft to the skies for its landmark first flight. The aircraft left the production facility in Greensboro and took off on Friday morning from Piedmont Triad International Airport in North Carolina – the same state where the Wright Brothers undertook their first flight over a century ago.
The HondaJet undertook an 84-minute test flight, climbing to 15,500 feet (4,724 metres) and reaching a speed of 348 knots. That works out to 400 miles per hour (643 km/h) – assuredly faster than any Honda (save for maybe a prototype for the same aircraft) has traveled before. The aircraft is designed to cruise at a maximum of 420 knots (777 km/h) and reach a maximum altitude of 43,000 feet (13,100 metres).
Over 1,000 staff members were on the tarmac when it landed to celebrate the milestone. The next step is to receive FAA type certification, after which the first customers will take delivery of their aircraft next year.