Following 10 runway incidents involving HondaJet HA-420 aircraft in the past 15 months, five of them occurring this year, groups including the HondaJet Owners andamp; Pilots Association (HJOPA) and fractional provider Jet It have announced differing plans to ensure the safe operation of the small private jets.
In Jet It's case, a company that has an objectively rocky history with the aircraft maker, it reportedly has decided to ground its fleet, while the HJOPA is calling for a safety standdown and for vigilance amongst the pilots flying HondaJets.
Many of the incidents involve the overshooting of runways, in some cases, blame has been cast on the pilots; in others, the weather might have played a role.
Julie Hughes, executive director of the HJOPA, recently posted a video on the association's YouTube channel addressing the incidents.
"All of you are experienced pilots, and while you have your own ideas involving each of these events, it's critical that we do not jump to conclusions or reach unfounded assumptions," she said. "Instead, we are allowing the data to inform us about this concerning trend on our platform. This data-driven approach will guide us in taking appropriate actions to enhance the safety of each of our operations."
According to her LinkedIn profile, Hughes is a pilot who spent more than 10 years working for Honda Aircraft Company before taking the HJOPA leadership position in November.
A voluntary safety standdown "will provide the opportunity for our members to actively participate and contribute to the collective understanding of these incidents and accidents," she said. "I urge each one of you to actively participate in the safety standdown when it is announced and carefully consider the targeted training measures that will be made available."
Hughes asked pilots to focus on a list of items, which allude to some of the factors in the runway incidents. Collectively, they raise questions of whether some of the incidents could have been cases of get-there-itis, a colloquialism in the aviation community of emphasizing timeliness over safety.
The suggestions included for pilots to focus on flying a stabilized approach.
"If you're not stable, go around," Hughes said, also to fly VREF airspeed. "If you're on short final and you're too fast, go around."
She also called for pilots to stay on the runway until reaching taxi speed, to "get comfortable using max braking and full control authority as you're rolling out" and to inspect main gear wear pins, as well as tires for treadwear and damage before flights.
Here is a list of recent incidents in the U.S. involving the HondaJet HA-420, as compiled by the Aviation Safety Network:March 9, 2022: A HondaJet operated by Jet It overshot a 6,500-foot runway in snowy and foggy conditions at Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Airport (AGC). Two pilots and one passenger escaped without serious injury but the plane suffered significant damage.
April 25, 2022: A HondaJet operated by Ruston Aviation landed with a 10-knot tailwind shortly after storms had moved through the area around Austin Executive Airport (EDC). The plane overshot the runway and got stuck in the mud but suffered minimal damage and there were no reported injuries.
June 26, 2022: A HondaJet operated by Fast Air Ltd. overran the runway at Aspen-Pitkin County Airport (ASE). No injuries were reported among the three passengers and two pilots.
July 13, 2022: The brakes locked up on a HondaJet operated by ENFA Aviation LLC as the plane was landing. It spun on the runway and went into the grass at Leesburg Executive Airport (JYO).
Oct. 12, 2022: A HondaJet operated by Jupiter Aviation LLC was hit by a wind gust during landing, leading to a runway excursion at West Michigan Regional Airport (BIV). Six people on board were unharmed and the damage was reportedly minor.
Nov. 15, 2022: A HondaJet operated by Anderson Air LLC was damaged substantially at Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC). The jet reportedly lined up on the left edge of the runway on takeoff and hit lights on the taxiway and runway. Takeoff was aborted at 77 knots and the aircraft taxied back to the ramp.
Feb. 17: A HondaJet operated by Hadeo Air LLC suffered significant wing damage while landing at William P. Hobby Airport (HOU). Four minutes after turning onto final approach, the crew aborted the approach and then repositioned to land on the same runway, from which it then veered off. There were no injuries.
March 5: A HondaJet operated by Volato left the runway while landing at Buena Vista-Central Colorado Regional Airport (AEJ) with no injuries reported.
March 21: A privately operated HondaJet suffered a bird strike while taking off from Napa County Airport (APC). The plane circled back and landed without incident.
May 18: A HondaJet operated by Upfrunt Services LLC hydroplaned off the end of a runway at Summerville Airport (DYB). It hit a berm and caught fire. There were no injuries reported but the plane was destroyed.RELATED STORIES: Jet It reportedly grounds HondaJet fleet after privately owned aircraft hydroplanes, catches fire No injuries after HondaJet goes off runway at Pittsburgh Allegheny County AirportDespite more than one year passing since the latest known runway incident involving a HondaJet operated by Jet It, the company announced it was grounding its fleet. There have been no orders from governmental agencies or HondaJet calling for the same."Jet It's decision to ground their HondaJet fleet was made independently by Jet It," a Honda Aircraft spokesperson said in a statement emailed to GlobalAir.com. "Importantly, neither Honda Aircraft Company nor any aviation authority has recommended this grounding. Therefore, we have no comment about the decision by Jet It to ground its fleet.
"In all closed investigations of previous runway events, investigators found no causal factors from the aircraft's design or any system malfunction," the statement continues. "Our engineering and analysis (support) our product as a safe aircraft to operate.
"Honda Aircraft Company and the rest of the HondaJet fleet will continue its normal operation. Honda Aircraft 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 the recent occurrence and to implement any necessary measures."
Ironically, on the same day, Jet It posted a photo of a sunrise taken from the cockpit of a HondaJet HA-420. Now it seems that the sun is setting on the relationship between the two businesses.Earlier this year, a lawsuit was settled between Honda Aircraft and Jet It after the aircraft maker accused the fractional company of defamation and selling off an aircraft improperly.This week, Flying Magazine cited two unnamed former executives of Jet It who said the company has had trouble flying customers and has recently furloughed workers.
Phone and email requests for comment from Jet It were not immediately returned.