Marshall Aerospace hopes to secure a future risk-sharing role after winning the initial design and manufacture contract for the first five sets of nacelles on the new HondaJet business aircraft.
The UK aerostructures business was contracted in August by Honda Aircraft to produce the nacelle, which is an over-the-wing engine-mount configuration generating less drag than standard rear-fuselage designs.
The structural design and manufacture of the nacelles for the very light jet will be carried out at Marshall´s Cambridge facility, with the first set due for delivery to Honda´s assembly line in Greensboro, North Carolina in early 2009, ready for the aircraft´s test programme, which is scheduled to start in June.
Marshall has worked extensively in the area of lightweight aerostructures, building on expertise in developing fuel tanks for major aircraft manufacturers.
Michael Milne, Marshall´s marketing director, says the UK business would like to secure a future production order as a risk-sharing partner within the emerging VLJ market.
"We looked around and assessed all the manufacturers of this new VLJ aircraft type. We took the view that Honda was a pretty serious outfit with deep pockets in terms of development funding and with a good likelihood of coming out the other side."
He says the preliminary design review has been completed and work is under way on the critical design review of the pre-production units.
Honda Aircraft has selected the UK´s Hampson Industries to supply the empennage for HondaJet. The company has already selected Avcrop to supply the metal wing and GKN Aerospace to produce the composite fuselage. The HondaJet is earmarked for certification in 2010.