GREENSBORO — Honda Aircraft said this week that it expects certification from the Federal Aviation Administration “very soon,” clearing the way for the company to finally deliver the first of its innovative light jets built at Piedmont Triad International Airport.
“We are expecting FAA-type certification … very soon,” Michimasa Fujino, Honda Aircraft’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement released this week at a Las Vegas air show.
Honda is already building aircraft at its 133-acre campus at PTI, where 1,500 people work.
It has spent nine years and at least $2 billion, according to some estimates, to develop the jet but has delayed delivery several times.
This new statement is the most optimistic yet.
Fujino said the company has concluded its function-and-reliability testing, which simulates typical, in-service flight operations. Those tests include takeoffs, landings and other key operations in hot, cold and humid conditions.
The HondaJet has flown to 54 airports in 31 states as part of testing, the company said in the news release.
Honda Aircraft also added that the jet has further demonstrated “readiness for entry into service” after a world tour earlier this year through Japan, Europe and South America where the aircraft flew more than 300 hours.
The $4.5 million jet, which seats four people, is unusual in the industry because its engines are mounted above the wings. The fuselage is unusual because it is made of light — but strong — composite material.
The company has said for several years that it already has “more than a hundred” orders for the jets, which can be built at a rate of roughly 80 a year on the company’s assembly line.
Honda’s headquarters at PTI includes a maintenance and repair operation and a pilot training center.
Engines for the HondaJet are made about 30 miles to the east in Burlington at sister company GE Honda Aero Engines. That company received FAA certification for its engines earlier this year.
Honda Aircraft chose PTI in 2006 as its headquarters after operating quietly for several years in a nondescript research building.
Earlier this year, Fujino said at an industry event in Brazil that “aviation certification is a very complex process, which is why it is so difficult to enter the market.”