The 2,000-lb.-thrust-class GE Honda HF120 is one of the most advanced engines in its class, having a 4.5:1 thrust-to-weight ratio, 2.9:1 bypass ratio and 24:1 pressure ratio. It’s also one of the quietest and lowest exhaust emission engines in its class.

                                                                       

General Electric and Honda formed the joint venture in 2004, enabling the firms to capitalize on GE engine materials and 3-D aero expertise, particularly with titanium fan and compressor alloys, and Honda’s aerodynamic design capabilities. Early production engines were built in GE’s Lynn, Massachusetts, plant, but now manufacturing has been transferred to Honda Aero’s 86,100-sq.-ft. plant in Burlington, North Carolina, about 35 mi. east of HACI’s Greensboro campus.

With a mature TBO of 5,000 hr. and no requirement for a midlife hot-section inspection, the engine is expected to remain on wing 40% longer than other engines in this class and thus have far lower operating costs. Current TBO is 2,500 hr. Honda Aero’s engine maintenance care plan should run about $139 per engine per hour. Repairs and overhauls, along with four spare engines, will be available through Honda Aero.

The engine is a conventional two-shaft design, with a single-piece, wide-chord, swept-blade titanium alloy fan up front and two, single-piece titanium, axial flow, low-pressure compressors driven by a two-stage low-pressure turbine. Rotating in the opposite direction on the second shaft is the centrifugal flow titanium compressor (or impeller) and single-stage high-pressure turbine with single-crystal blades. Between the cold and hot sections is an effusion cooled, low emissions annular combustor.

Trivial fact: The combustion liner has 94,000 laser-drilled holes. Tangible benefit: When we looked at a combustor that had been removed from a production spec engine for tests, it exhibited very even heat coloring, a key indication of even temperature distribution and long service life.

The Honda Aero plant includes warehouse, inventory control, parts kitting, assembly, static and dynamic testing sections, plus an engine test stand. The firm recently broke ground on a 50,000-sq.-ft. extension to the plant that will enable it to produce well more than 100 engines per year.

Similar to HACI’s Greensboro campus and other Honda factories, the work environment at Honda Aero is all white, brightly illuminated and immaculate. Employees dress in company-provided white overall uniforms, adding to the team spirit of the work environment. They are proud to work for Honda, they say.

As an example, HACI has very tough standards for engine performance and low vibration. Honda Aero won’t ship an HF120 if its vibration is more than about half the HACI requirement.