|OKYO - Honda Motor Co, Japan\'s second-biggest auto maker, said yesterday it had signed a deal with General Electric Co of the United States to make engines for light business jets.|
Under the agreement, the two companies will develop Honda\'s new HF118 turbofan jet engine, which was mounted on an experimental small business jet called the HondaJet.
Honda said in December that it had succeeded in test-flying the HondaJet in the United States, taking a step toward its long-term goal of entering the aircraft business.
The six-seat HondaJet is the world\'s first business jet made completely by an auto maker and is powered by a lightweight, low-emission turbine engine that Honda has been developing since 1999.
Toyota Motor Corp, Japan\'s biggest auto maker, also grabbed headlines in 2002 by making its first test run of a prototype aircraft, but the plane\'s engine came from a different manufacturer.
Developing aircraft has been one of Honda\'s goals for the past four decades, and a dream held by its late, legendary founder, Soichiro Honda.
Honda, which started off building motorcycles and in 1986 began researching small business jets, has said the HondaJet offered at least 40 percent better fuel efficiency and more cabin space than existing jets of the same class.
The 41-foot long jet has a flight range of 1,270 miles and can cruise at a maximum speed of almost 500 miles per hour. It can seat up to six, including the pilot, Honda said in December.
Earlier last year, Honda announced separate plans to look into the possibility of selling a next-generation piston aviation engine that it had been developing since 2000, with partner Teledyne Continental Motors Inc, a unit of U.S. electronic components maker Teledyne Technologies Inc.
Entry into the aviation business could present big opportunities for Honda, which says its piston aviation engine is superior to those currently available in terms of weight, fuel efficiency, power output and emissions.
Shares in Honda were up 0.67 percent after the announcement, in a flat market.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE