"It could be a serious effort to clobber this niche, or it could be a really fun branding exercise," he said. Just as automakers sponsor racing teams to boost the cool factor of their brands, Honda could be venturing into jets to add cachet to its name.
No matter where it's headed, Honda has spent a lot of time on the concept, with much of the development work done in Greensboro over the past six years. In a nod to that connection, the company in August said that it would put the headquarters of Honda Aircraft Co. there.
"We're thrilled that they're here," Johnson said. And he's hoping for more.
1986: Honda sends a small group of engineers to study advanced aeronautics at Mississippi State University with the goal of producing an experimental light jet. The project is called MH02.
1995: Honda ends the MH02 project, saying the goals were achieved.
1999: Honda begins working on a jet engine prototype, HF118.
2000: Honda chooses Atlantic Aero Holdings of Greensboro to help create its experimental aircraft.
DECEMBER 2003: Honda begins testing a six-passenger compact jet prototype at Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro.
FEBRUARY 2004: Honda Motor and General Electric announce that they are teaming up to produce the HF118 engine for small aircraft.
JULY 2004: Honda establishes a U.S. subsidiary, Honda Aero.
SEPTEMBER 2004: To launch the HF118 turbofan engine, Honda and GE form a joint venture company, GE Honda Aero Engines.
JULY 2005: Honda debuts the HondaJet at the Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture gathering in Wisconsin. The plane, powered by two HF118 engines, executes several flybys and a perfect landing.
AUGUST 2006: Honda announces that the headquarters of Honda Aircraft Co. will be in Greensboro.
OCTOBER 2006: Honda begins taking orders for its very light jets and expects to deliver the first jets to customers in 2010.
COMPILED BY RESEARCHER BROOKE CAIN
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