General Electric Co. and Honda Motor Co., Ltd. have formally established a new joint venture company, GE Honda Aero Engines LLC, which is pursuing the launch of Honda's HF118 turbofan engine in the light business jet market.

The definitive agreement creating the joint company has been signed by David Calhoun, president and CEO of GE Transportation; and Takeo Fukui, president and CEO of Honda Motor Co.; at the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. The two companies had announced a strategic alliance last February.

The 50/50 joint company is owned by GE Transportation, the world's largest manufacturer of jet engines, and Honda Aero, Inc, a wholly-owned Honda subsidiary established to manage Honda's aviation engine business.

The new company will begin operating near year's end in Cincinnati, Ohio, where GE Transportation's aircraft engine business is headquartered. The company will work closely with GE and Honda Aero, Inc. in Reston, Virginia.

GE Honda Aero Engines is fully engaged in discussions with airframe manufacturers as potential launch customers, development of the technology roadmap for engine certification, and establishment of a manufacturing infrastructure. The company's first product, the HF118 engine, will enter service in the 1,600-pound thrust class. GE Honda Aero Engines will be responsible for commercial turbofan engines ranging in thrust from 1,000 to 3,500 pounds.

"Honda has spent several years carefully developing the HF118 engine," said Calhoun. "Meanwhile, GE in recent years has been engaged in jet engine development activities unprecedented in our history, including the creation of a family of new engines for regional jets. This allows GE to bring innovative design and materials technologies to GE Honda Aero Engines."

"We are now one step closer to our dream of entering the aviation business," said Fukui. "The relationship between GE and Honda has progressed quickly and smoothly because of strong mutual trust and the fact that we are both very confident that this new company will be very successful. This connection has made it a unique and natural fit to merge our mutual strengths."

The emergence of small, less expensive business jets (seating four to eight passengers), combined with a growing demand for more flexible business and personal travel, create considerable opportunity for a highly reliable and durable jet engine to power them.

Honda and GE envision a future market of approximately 200 or more of these business jets annually. Small business jet applications include owner operators and fractional owners, as well as potential "air taxi" operations. The "air taxi" business involves micro jets flying passengers on short stops using the vast number of small airports not serviced by major airlines.