After putting it into service just a few weeks ago, the world’s largest aero-engine manufacturer is thrilled with the performance of one of the world’s smallest business jets.

GE Aviation took delivery of the first of two HondaJets towards the end of March, and is already seeing dramatic benefits in productivity and efficiency as the little aircraft whisks executives between sites in the company’s newly-built supply chain.

Ramping up production of the airline CFM Leap engine – more than 12,000 are on order – has meant developing new processes and materials such as additive manufacturing and carbon matrix composites, and building new factories in the eastern half of the U.S. to feed the assembly lines. The HondaJet fits neatly into this high-tech supply chain.

“We’re flying the heck out of it, probably using four times the cycles than any other owner,” says David Joyce, vice chair of GE and president and CEO of GE Aviation (Chalet 142).

“In fact the efficiency is quite extraordinary,” he explains. For example, Cincinnati-based manufacturing executives visiting Batesville, Miss., used to be faced with an all-day trip, flying by airlines to Memphis, Tenn., and then driving to Batesville. “They would be lucky to get back the same night,” says Joyce. But the HondaJet gets them there that morning, allows them to leave the plant before lunch for meetings in Ellisville, Miss., flies on to Auburn, Ala., and returns to Cincinnati that day.

Those four meetings represent a week’s worth of travel by airline, Joyce notes. “It is proving extraordinarily efficient for the supply chain,” he says.

GE, whose GE Honda Aero Engines joint venture manufactures the HondaJet’s powerplants, will reap another benefit from heavy use of the aircraft. “We will create our own fleet leader program on the engines,” says Joyce. At the current rate, GE’s aircraft will become the highest-time HondaJet this October, says Brad Mottier, VP and general manager of GE Aviation’s business and general aviation and integrated systems operation.

“The most we’ve flown is 19 flights in one week,” Mottier says. The company has identified 20 manufacturing sites that can be best serviced by the HondaJet because of their location and the lack of direct airline flights. “We can zip there in an hour, an hour 20 minutes,” he notes.

Already, GE has found the actual cost of travel is less than going by airline, renting cars, and staying overnight in hotels. With four executives on board, the efficiency multiplies. “Plus it’s a productivity tool,” when executives’ time is taken into account, he says.

The full picture is being assembled. “We’re in the process now of recording all the flights and the number of people and compiling all that cost data against the historic data we have for those same people traveling to those same sites,” says Mottier. Analysis will include direct operating costs and operating contracts, including GE pilots and maintenance engineering, and hangars. “Then we will know exactly what the cost/productivity benefits are, but we think they’re substantial.”

GE Aviation will take delivery of its second HondaJet next year. And Joyce, as vice chair of GE, will be encouraging the corporation’s other divisions, such as transportation, medical and energy, to assess the efficiencies being experienced by the aero engine business with the HondaJet to see if they, too, can take advantage of the light-jet end of business aviation.​