July 18, 2007 — Honda Motor Corp. Ltd.'s subsidiary Honda Aero Inc. is planning to manufacture jet engines at a new plant in Burlington, NC, the company has revealed, a $27-million project that will begin operation late in 2010. The plant, as well as a new headquarters for Honda Aero, will be adjacent to a regional airport there.
The engines will be developed and marketed a joint venture between General Electric and Honda Aero, GE Honda Aero Engines, established three years ago to serve the emerging Very Light Jet segment with engines in the 1,000-3,500-lb thrust class.Very Light Jets are marketed for private and business aviation, and sometimes referred to as "air taxis." They are designed to carry three to seven passengers plus one crew member within a range of 1,295 mills, at speeds of 400-500 mph, over distances of 1,000 to 1,300 miles. There are presently two VLJ models available commercially, though more are due to be introduced in the coming months and several more offerings are in the pipeline. Among the models due for introduction soon is Honda Aircraft Co.'s Honda HA-420 HondaJet. The new Honda Aero plant will produce the 2,000-lb thrust GE Honda HF120 turbofan engine. This model offers a high thrust-to-weight ratio, high fuel efficiency, low emissions, and quiet operation, and it will power two new VLJs, the HondaJet and Spectrum Aeronautical's S-40 Freedom. Testing on the HF120 began in 2005, and the first core testing was conducted earlier this year. Full engine testing is planned later this year.