Honda may Build Jet Engine in N.C.

North Carolina workers may make another important piece of Honda's jet aircraft: the engine.

A partnership of GE Aviation and the Japanese automaker that will build the power plant has homed in on a site at the Burlington-Alamance Regional Airport, a lawmaker said.

Rep. Cary Allred, an Alamance County Republican, said he was told by a "high-level official" at the N.C. Department of Transportation that the company had chosen the site for the operation that will employ 50 or less.

"I don't believe he would have said that to me as a legislator if it wasn't true," Allred said. An announcement could come this month, he added.

Deb Case, a spokeswoman for GE Aviation, declined to comment, other than to say that the GE-Honda partnership has considered production possibilities at existing and new plants. No announcements are scheduled.

Allred took a special interest in the project because of the secrecy that has surrounded it. Officials with the Burlington-Alamance Airport Authority have been tight-lipped, even as they approved as much as $11 million in loans to buy 120 acres and prepare a site.

Thomas E. Boney Jr., owner of the weekly newspaper The Alamance News, was arrested last week after he refused to leave an airport authority meeting that officials closed to the public.

"I think it's gone too far," Allred said. "If they don't believe in openness in government, they need to pick another country to live in."

Honda Aircraft in February said that it will build its new, light jets in nearby Guilford County. The company, which was promised $9.5 million in state and local incentives, plans a $100 million campus at the Piedmont Triad International Airport for its global headquarters and production. It expects to hire as many as 283 workers over five years.

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