Las Vegas — Honda Aircraft Company is following a familiar playbook for certification of its new light business jet, but that approach could face obstacles in the wake of the Boeing 737 Max disasters, several industry officials closely involved with the project tell The Air Current.
The company spent decades conceptualizing, industrializing and certifying its first model, the HA-420. The company formally commercialized its new larger light jet — originally called the “2600 concept” — earlier this year, adding key suppliers as part of the launch of its second aircraft. At NBAA-BACE here in Las Vegas, the North Carolina-based unit of the Japanese automaker revealed more details of its plan that aims to achieve Federal Aviation Administration certification in 2028 for what it has now designated as the HA-480 ‘Echelon’ business jet.
This second project underscores Honda’s long-term pursuit of staying power. Yet, with the retirement of its enigmatic founder and architect, Michimasa Fujino, it also represents a key test for the plane maker’s ability to carry forth the industrial foundations he forged into a durable technical platform from which to launch future products.
The project is also certain to test the FAA’s tolerance for allowing plane makers to apply the Changed Product Rule to substantially different aircraft in a certification environment still in search of a new normal after the 2018 and 2019 737 Max crashes, grounding, and subsequent certification reforms.
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