The General Electric Honda HF120 engine for the HA-420 HondaJet light business aircraft has received its long-awaited FAA Part 33 engine certification, clearing the way for the start of full-scale production. Engine development proved far more complicated and time-consuming than GE or Honda expected. Certification comes nine years after the engine makers formed their joint venture and four years later than planned when the program was launched in 2006.

The HF120 production engine was first targeted for certification in 2009, but several issues were encountered during development, one of the most serious being the failure of ice-ingestion tests in 2011, which led to a redesign of the HF120's blisked fan and changes to manufacturing processes. The engine's thrust rating also grew marginally, to 2,095 lb. from 2,050 lb. thrust when first launched, and followed the decision to baseline the engine for higher power after initial work on Honda's original HF118 development engine.

GE Honda says the ground- and flight-test program leading up to FAA authorization involved 13 engines and more than 14,000 cycles and 9,000 hr. of trials. In addition to the unusual blisked fan, the HF120 design also incorporates composite outlet-guide vanes, a high-temperature titanium impeller in the compressor, reverse-flow configuration combustor and single-stage air-blast fuel nozzles. The engine is entering limited production at GE's facility in Lynn, Mass.; full-rate production is expected to transfer to Honda Aero's plant in Burlington, N.C., in the second half 2014 once the site is granted a production certificate.