The Honda Aircraft Co, a subsidiary of Honda Motor, is investing $27 million to build an aircraft engine factory in North Carolina, a state in which it has committed to spending $127 million to build various aviation facilities, including $40 million for a factory in Greensboro. The new engine plant will be located in Burlington, and will create 70 new jobs in the area.
The Greensboro plant will produce the low-cost eight-passenger HondaJet. Honda intends to compete with Cessna, a Textron subsidiary that is currently the world's largest producer of small business jets. Greensboro will also house HondaJet's US headquarters. The entire facility is expected to cost $100 million, and will generate 300 jobs.
The factory in Burlington will begin production of HF120 turbofan engines by 2010. The plan is to build 200 units initially, which will be sold through a partnership with General Electric Co (GE).
The HF120 engine is up to 50 per cent more fuel-efficient than competing turbofan engines, says Honda. The company claims it is also the lowest-cost engine in the market; to own and operate. Its price is expected to be lower than half a million dollars each. Honda will assemble the engines, while General Electric will provide repair and maintenance. The joint venture has already sold over 200 engines, according to GE.
With a top speed of 420 knots, a 43,000-foot service ceiling and a 30 to 35 per cent increase in fuel efficiency versus comparable light jets, HondaJet is powered by two GE-Honda HF120 turbofan engines, each rated at 1880 pounds thrust, with higher fuel efficiency, the lowest engine emissions, and quietest operation in its class. The HondaJet will sell for $3.65 million (Rs14.67 crore) and carry up to six passengers and two crew.
The Honda Aero division was earlier based in Reston, Virginia, and some of the staff will relocate to North Carolina. Honda is the second-largest car manufacturer in Japan, after Toyota, and the largest motorcycle producer in the world. In the US, the company's auto operations are based in Torrance, California.