The Burlington Jet Factory: Honda Chooses Engine Site

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Honda Aero Inc. and the Alamance Airport Authority yesterday signed an agreement to bring the airframer's new engine manufacturing facility to the Burlington-Alamance Regional Airport outside Burlington, N.C. The deal, expected to provide 30 jobs by next year and some 140 by 2013, involves the authority's selling to Honda 90 acres on the airport's east side. The land will be used for a three-phase project slated to include Honda Aero's headquarters and a manufacturing facility for the GE Honda Aero Engines' HF-120, which powers the forthcoming HondaJet. GE Honda Aero Engines is a joint venture between GE and Honda Aero, established in 2004 for the development, certification and commercialization of jet engines in the 1,000 to 3,500 pounds thrust class. Additional phases at the Burlington facility likely will include a service center. According to early reports, nothing in the deal diminishes Greensboro, N.C., as Honda's choice for final assembly of the to-be-certificated light jet.

The 102,400-square-foot Honda Aero facility will consist of 36,000 square feet of office space, a 58,400-square-foot production plant and an 8,000-square-foot engine test cell, all part of the $65 million investment the company plans. Production at the new engine plant will begin in late 2010 with the 2,000-pound thrust Honda HF120 turbofan. Honda Aero says it will employ approximately 70 when the plant reaches its initial production plan of 200 engines per year, scheduled for within about a year of production startup. The company will invest approximately $27 million for construction of the headquarters and manufacturing facility, including equipment. "This is a major step forward for our company, as we move to establish the home of our jet engine manufacturing operations here in Burlington," said Fumitaka Hasegawa, president and CEO of Honda Aero Inc. "Just as our partnership with GE has created this class-leading engine, this facility reflects an important new partnership between Honda and North Carolina."