Honda Aircraft Co. CEO Michimasa Fujino says the Federal Aviation Administration's final certification of the HondaJet this week is a "monumental milestone" for the company.
The firm says it's now ramping up production in Greensboro with 25 aircraft on the final assembly line. Its work force is nearing 1,700 people as it prepares for deliveries, pilot training and after-sales customer service and support by the end of the year.
“Achieving FAA type certification for the HondaJet is a monumental milestone for Honda,” Fujino said. “We established Honda Aircraft as a new aerospace company and introduced our first product — an advanced light jet with technologies developed from serious research activities."
The company officially announced the approval Wednesday at its headquarters at Piedmont Triad International Airport. The event was attended by more than 2,000 people, including FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.
Musician Kenny G was even on hand to play a few tunes for the crowd.
The firm, a subsidiary of American Honda Motor Co. (NYSE: HMC), is expected to produce 80 to 100 of the $4.5 million lightweight jets per year.
The "type certification" for the jet was made possible "through the collaborative efforts of the FAA and Honda Aircraft Co.," said Melvin Taylor, manager of the FAA’s Atlanta Aircraft Certification Office.
Honda Aircraft validated the plane's performance, safety, function and reliability through ground and flight tests with the FAA. Total flight hours exceeded 3,000, with testing conducted at more than 70 locations across the U.S.
"Collaboration is not easy, it often is a difficult subject," Taylor said. "But when it is done successfully like this program, the rewards are gratifying to us all."
Honda Aircraft says the jet is the fastest in its class at 420 knots (483 mph), as well as the most efficient.
Gov. Pat McCrory said the certification marked "an exciting day for North Carolina and our state’s aerospace industry."
"As far back as the Wright Brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk, our role in aviation has always been significant," he said. "Now, when we look up in the sky, we will see jets made right here in North Carolina."