HondaJet Owners Group Plans Safety Standdown

A HondaJet Elite
A HondaJet Elite.
Credit: Nigel Prevett/Aviation Week

This article has been updated with additional information from Honda Aircraft. --editor's note

An association representing HondaJet owners is organizing a voluntary safety standdown of flight operations following eight recent incidents of HondaJet pilots veering from or overrunning a runway surface.

Julie Hughes, executive director of the HondaJet Owners and Pilots Association (HJOPA), announced the standdown in a video delivered to members of the group after the most recent runway excursion incident, May 18 at Summerville Airport (KDYB) in South Carolina. There have been eight runway excursions involving HA-420 HondaJets since June 2022, according to Aviation Safety Network data.

“It’s critical that we do not jump to conclusions or make unfounded assumptions,”  Hughes said. “Instead, we are allowing the data to inform us about this concerning trend within our platform. This data-driven approach will guide us in taking appropriate actions to enhance the safety of each of our operations.”

The “organized break in flying activities” will provide an opportunity for members to engage in focused safety discussions leading to targeted training recommendations, Hughes said. “Although this standdown is voluntary, I strongly believe this is our collective responsibility to prioritize safety above all else,” she added. The association is collaborating with training provider FlightSafety International and manufacturer Honda Aircraft on the standdown event.

Separate and not related to the association’s call, fractional ownership company Jet It said that it implemented a safety standdown of its HondaJet fleet on May 18. “Grounding the HondaJets was in response to an incident outside of the organization in Summerville, S.C., and out of an abundance of caution,” spokesperson Akir Khan said. “A Jet It aircraft was not involved in this incident.”

In response to an inquiry, Honda Aircraft said the HJOPA standdown “is not intended to ground the aircraft and had been prearranged before the occurrence of the most recent accident.” The Greensboro, North Carolina-based manufacturer said it is supporting the investigation of the May 18 incident at KDYB, which did not result in any injuries.

“Honda Aircraft Co. holds the safety and reliability of our aircraft as our top priorities, and our dedicated team is working closely with the NTSB and FAA to determine the cause of this occurrence and to implement any necessary measures,” the company said.

“In all closed investigations of previous runway events, investigators found no causal factors from the aircraft’s design or any system malfunction,” Honda Aircraft added. “Our engineering and analysis supports our product as a safe aircraft to operate. As a result, Honda Aircraft Co. will continue all of its flight activities under normal operation.”

Honda Aircraft also called attention to a further statement from the owners association, saying: "HJOPA is not suggesting a grounding of the HondaJet fleet, nor is HJOPA suggesting safety concerns with the HondaJet airframe. The prearranged voluntary safety standdown event is an information session to share experiences from an operational standpoint to enhance the safety awareness of operation."

The HJOPA announced its standdown in advance of a May 23 forum the NTSB organized to discuss several recent runway incursions, or near collisions, at major U.S. airports. Potentially catastrophic, the runway incursions mainly involved airliners. However, one incident—on Feb. 28 at Boston Logan Airport—involved the near miss of a Learjet 60 preparing to take off with a JetBlue Embraer 190 attempting to land.

Runway excursions have been the most common accident type in corporate jet operations over the past six years, according to the Flight Safety Foundation. Of 35 total corporate jet accidents last year, 17 involved runway excursions, the foundation said in its 2022 Safety Report, which it released this March.

Hughes offered HondaJet pilots the following advice: “Focus on flying a stabilized approach. If you’re not stable, go around. Energy management—fly Vref airspeed. If you’re on short final and you’re too fast, go around. Also, continue to fly your aircraft on the runway until you’ve reached taxi speed. Get comfortable using max braking and full control authority as you’re rolling out. Check your tires carefully for tread wear and/or damage before each flight. Also, inspect your main gear brake wear pins before each flight.”