Honda Is Ready to Make a Mark in the Air

Honda Motor Co. (NYSE:HMC) is preparing itself for the launch of its $4.5 million plane. Though the new HondaJet is not expected to gain regulatory approval until late next year, the motor company is boosting its staff by as much as 50 percent to accommodate the jet’s expanding production, Bloomberg reports.

Honda Aircraft Co. currently employs 800 employees in its sector reserved for the development and production of the HondaJet. It will add 300 to 400 staff members, as it nears its deadline for regulatory approvement. Though the aircraft company fell behind schedule with the HF120 turbofan engine it built via a joint venture with General Electric Co. (NYSE:GE), Honda still expects the regulatory approval of the engine by the year’s end.

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Some HondaJets are already flying, but trials with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration are at a standstill until its motor has been endorsed.

And speed is of the essence for Honda, as it competes with business-jet makers Textro Inc.’s (NYSE:TXT) Cessna and Embraer SA (NYSE:ERJ). Though Cessna is the largest builder of business jets, Michimasa Fujino, chief Executive offer of Honda’s Greensboro, North-Carolina-based unit, explained in an interview that “HondaJet’s engine arrangement allows for a larger cabin than rivals and greater fuel efficiency.” The $4.5 million is expected to seat as many as seven passengers.

With demand for business jets steadily increasing, Honda Aircraft is optimistic about the market for its future jet. It has already booked more than 100 plane orders.

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