Honda Aircraft Offers Sneak Peek Of HondaJet Birthplace

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On Monday, Honda Aircraft for the first time hosted a group of outsiders -- in this case about 25 journalists -- at its Greensboro (N.C.) Piedmont Triad Airport facility, where the company designed, developed, tested, built and has flown the HondaJet very light jet (VLJ). The complex houses a small group of engineers, flight-test personnel and company executives in a setting that allows, and encourages, employee interaction. "This small building is filled with very sophisticated technological abilities and big dreams," noted CEO Michimasa Fujino, who is unarguably the father of the HondaJet. He began work on Honda's aircraft program some 20 years ago as a "pure home-grown effort," which not only included the airframe but also the turbofan engines. After much tinkering to perfect the aircraft's unique over-the-wing-mounted engine design, the company is well on the path to certify the very light jet. The HondaJet prototype has been flying since Dec. 3, 2003, and to date has logged about 300 hours over nearly 200 flights. Honda continues to develop the HF120 turbofan under a joint venture formed with GE Transportation Aircraft Engines in October 2004.