In recent news AINonline reported the first conforming Honda Aircraft HA-420 HondaJet took off from Runway 5 at Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, N.C., at 3:31 p.m. EST yesterday. Piloted by chief test pilot Warren Gould and test pilot Stefan Johanson, the light twinjet took off in clear weather with a slightly gusty 10-knot crosswind, according to Michimasa Fujino, president and CEO of Honda Aircraft, who watched the first flight along with all the Honda Aircraft employees in Greensboro.
This was also the first flight of the HondaJet powered by the GE Honda Aero HF120 engine, which is more powerful than the Honda-designed and -built HF118 used in the prototype HondaJet. The HF120 made its first flight about two weeks ago on a GE CitationJet testbed.
N420HJ is equipped with the production-conforming cockpit interior, including the Garmin G3000 touchscreen-controlled avionics system. Gould and Johanson flew N420HJ with the landing gear extended to 12,500 feet and between 170 and 180 knots during the 51-minute first flight.
The conforming HondaJet performed much better than the prototype, Fujino said, because of the more powerful engines and drag reductions that engineers were able to achieve in the latest airframe. “Static stability is much better,” he said, “and damping characteristics are better.
Not a huge change but an improvement from the [proof-of-concept aircraft]. The first flight was encouraging.
This is a milestone for us to show our capability to build the conforming aircraft. Five conforming HondaJets are planned, and the second has completed structural testing in preparation for flight testing.
A third jet will be ready to enter the flight-test program early next year. Deliveries will begin in the third quarter of 2012.
For locating aircraft for sale and market conditions please see www.globalair.com/aircraft_for_sale
In the early stages of investigation, Libyan officials do not suspect terrorism in the crash of an Airbus A330 Wednesday just short of the Tripoli International Airport runway on final approach. At least 96 of the 104 died on board the Afriqiyah Airways flight from Johannesburg, South Africa to the Libyan capital. Flight Global reports the aircraft, confirmed by Airbus as serial number 1024, had completed just 1,600 hours in 420 flights prior to the crash.
Libyan officials reported one Dutch child survivor from the flight. Witnesses said it "exploded on landing."
UPDATE: Reuters reports that the Airbus involved in the crash had passed European spot checks.
Production of the mostly composite Lear 85 (pictured above) is on schedule, according to a report posted by AVWeb. Part assembly will begin in July in Mexico. The jet will be the first made by an American company to include Category 1 and Category 2 aircraft parts manufactured south of the border. Assembly will take place in Wichita, with the earliest deliveries arriving in 2013.
Meanwhile, delivery of the HondaJet again has been delayed until late 2012. An AP report cites a Honda spokesman blaming the second setback of a year or more on supplier delays of getting "unspecified major components" to the manufacturer.
Matt Thurber of AIN reports that Chevron Global Aviation will cease marketing Chevron and Texaco aviation fuel in 27 states, beginning Nov. 15. Chevron's distributor, Hiller/Air Petro, will continue serving operators in Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington.
In the realm of aviation economics and adding to the continued release of first-quarter reports, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association says piston aircraft shipments for the first three months of the year were off by more than 7 percent, while turboprop shipments dropped by 32.6 percent and jet deliveries sunk 14 percent, to 164 total. However, total billings increased by 7.1 percent.
Once-struggling NetJets reported that quarterly revenues increased by 18 percent compared to the
same period in 2009.
The big news of the day in the commercial aviation world, and the story most likely to be followed by national media, is the pending merger between United and Continental. Critics contend that an approved deal could launch passenger ticket prices skyward.
Tom Belden of the Philadelphia Inquirer says US Airways, which operates the bulk of flights into and out of the city, won't necessarily have to fret over such a merger. He says US Airways is running a far more reliable airline than it did in recent years. However, he concludes more work by the company is left to be done.
In other United news, the company issued a release over the weekend touting it has completed the first commercial flight in the United States using synthetic jet fuel.
The big news among business aviation, of course, is EBACE, which kicks off tomorrow in Geneva, Switzerland. Cessna will feature a CJ4 and Citation X with winglets at its booth. Aviation Week's Benet Wilson walks the convention floor and brings us a preview with photos. It appears the big story for those who walked in during construction over the weekend was a Liverpool-Chelsea soccer match on the HondaJet TV screens.
On the heels of the volcanic ash shutdown in Europe, Robert Mark of Jetwhine.com looks at how much the airlines lost as flights were grounded and suggests now may be the time for comapnies to put money into researching the phenomenon.
And, finally, private aviation could take a hit in North Carolina, where cash-strapped lawmakers will consider slashing the state's fleet of aircraft by more than one-third.