Honda Motor Co., Ltd. and General Electric Co. have announced the formation of a strategic alliance to produce a new jet engine for light business jets.
The agreement establishes the framework under which Honda and GE will further develop and certify Honda’s new HF118 turbofan jet engine. Honda started its jet engine and aircraft projects in 1986, and has been developing the lightweight HF118 engine, in the 1,000 to 3,500-pound thrust class, since 1999.
The HF118 has run more than 1,400 hours, including ground tests and more than 200 hours in flight tests on an existing flying test aircraft. In addition, two HF118 engines have powered Honda’s new experimental compact business jet, the HondaJet, in flight tests that began in December 2003.
The Honda/GE basic agreement includes: joint certification of the HF118; joint marketing activities under both companies’ joint brand with airframe manufacturers; and continued discussions on the business structure under which the two companies will mass produce the engine. Honda and GE have been in discussions for more than a year, and expect to sign a formal definitive agreement later this year.
The emergence of smaller, relatively inexpensive business jets, which seat from four to eight passengers, creates the potential for considerable engine sales for future business and personal travel. Honda and GE envision an annual market in the future for approximately 200 or more of these business jets. Small business jet applications include owner operators and fractional owners, as well as potential "air taxi" operations. The "air taxi" business involves micro jets flying passengers on short stops using the vast number of small airports not serviced by major airliners.
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