Jet It’s HondaJet fleet remains grounded; HondaJet group plans safety measures, disputes Jet It letter.
Jet It CEO Glenn Gonzalez emailed customers this afternoon that the company’s HondaJet fleet remains grounded in a safety stand down. At the same time, a group representing HondaJet owners is saying the email inaccurately characterized its position.
On Friday, Private Jet Card Comparisons exclusively reported Jet It, which last year ranked as the 12th largest private jet operator based on charter and fractional flight hours, had initiated a safety stand down following a runway excursion by a private operator in Summerville, South Carolina, on Thursday.
The accident happened on a short 5,000-runway that is believed to have been wet.
Several people with knowledge of the aircraft type tell Private Jet Card Comparisons it would have made the landing outside the operating specifications under stricter Part 135 rules, meaning the flight would have been diverted.
We have not communicated with Jet It on this issue and were surprised to see them inaccurately characterize our position. We do not want to ground the airplane. We believe the airplane is safe. We want to use data from the incidents as a basis for enhancing pilot training and decision making. In no way do we think the HondaJet should be grounded.-Julie Hughes, Executive Director, HondaJet Owners & Pilots Association
In an email to its members last night, Julie Hughes, Executive Director of the HondaJet Owners & Pilots Association, wrote, “There have been several incidents of HondaJet runway excursions and overruns. While we are still gathering data on these incidents, we are taking immediate steps to address this significant safety concern.”
She continued, “In light of these occurrences, we have initiated planning for an important initiative – the Safety Stand Down. We anticipate this event as a pivotal opportunity to enhance our safety practices collectively.”
No date has been set yet.
In the accompanying video, Hughes said she wanted to address “the recent rise in incidents and accidents involving our HondaJet aircraft.”
Hughes said there have been eight over the last 12 months.
Hughes also told members, “It’s critical that we do not jump to conclusions or make unfounded assumptions. Instead, we are allowing the data to inform us about this concerning trend within our platform.”
Jet It aircraft have been involved in three incidents since the beginning of 2022.
Earlier this afternoon, Gonzalez emailed fractional owners of the company the following:
I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing to inform you of an important development. As stakeholders and valued members of our fractional ownership program, we believe it is crucial to keep you informed of any significant changes that may affect your ownership experience.
On May 17, 2023, Jet It learned of a HondaJet runway excursion after landing in Summerville, South Carolina. This aircraft was neither owned nor operated by Jet It. After careful consideration of this and other recent similar events, we have made the difficult decision to implement a safety stand-down as of May 18, and ground this aircraft type in our fleet effective immediately. Jet It has taken this precautionary measure to ensure the safety and well-being of our passengers, pilots, and the integrity of our operations. The stand down will be focused on reviewing policies and procedures for the safe operation of the HondaJet aircraft and gathering more information.
The HondaJet Owners and Pilots Association has also called for a safety stand down and initiated a data analysis in light of the recent events.
We understand that this temporary grounding may inconvenience you and disrupt your travel plans. We sincerely apologize and assure you that we are working diligently with the relevant parties to understand what actions are necessary to ensure safe and reliable operations.
We are committed to keeping you updated throughout this process. We will provide progress reports, including the steps being taken to rectify the situation and an estimated timeline for the fleet’s return to service as we learn more. We value your trust and loyalty as fractional owners, and we are working to resolve this matter as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Your safety and satisfaction are our top priorities, and we appreciate your understanding and cooperation during this challenging time. We remain fully committed to maintaining the highest standards of safety and service excellence.
Jet It | CEO
HJOPA’s Hughes said she was surprised to learn of the email from Gonzalez.
She said, “We have not communicated with Jet It on this issue and were surprised to see them inaccurately characterize our position. We do not want to ground the airplane. We believe the airplane is safe. We want to use data from the incidents as a basis for enhancing pilot training and decision-making. In no way do we think the HondaJet should be grounded.”
In a written statement, a spokesperson for the OEM said, “Jet It’s decision to ground their HondaJet fleet was made independently by Jet It. 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.”
About the accident, she said, “Honda Aircraft Company is actively supporting the investigation of a recent accident of a customer aircraft on May 18, 2023, at Summerville Airport (KDYB), Summerville, SC. The accident did not result in any injuries, but as the investigation is ongoing, we do not have further details to share at this time. Honda Aircraft Company 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.”
She added, “In all closed investigations of previous runway events, investigators found no causal factors from the aircraft’s design or any system malfunction. Our engineering and analysis supports our product as a safe aircraft to operate. As a result, Honda Aircraft Company will continue all of its flight activities under normal operation.”
Update at 7:49 pm on May 22, 2023: An internal communication from Gonzalez to employees today titled “Employees should not report to work starting tomorrow” stated, “A limited number of employees deemed critical to necessary operational and/or administrative functions will be asked to remain active. We will be in touch with those individuals directly. I cannot guarantee a timeline on a possible return to work. Such timing would be based on internal and external factors. I know that this is incredibly difficult news to receive, and I deeply regret any hardship that it brings. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. I remain grateful for your dedication, patience, and support.”
In a November email to shareowners to schedule sales calls about the new Embraer offering, Gonzalez blasted Honda’s support and reliability as “grossly inadequate.”
At least one of its Phenom 300s was in the air today.
HondaJet sued Jet It in December for allegedly reselling an aircraft it had taken delivery of. That case was later settled.
Three operators feature the HondaJet in fractional or jet card programs: Jet It, Volato, and Jet Token.
In a written statement, Jet Token Chairman said, “We are confident in the well-established safety record of the HondaJet; we have operated the aircraft for years under FAA Part 135 with great success (and without incident). At Jet Token, we put safety first and could not ask for a more committed partner to safety than HondaJet.”
Volato CEO Matt Liotta, in a written statement, said, “Volato is confident in the HondaJet platform and our ability to operate the aircraft safely. Our safety standards and procedures are designed to reduce risk. We operate under FAA Part 135 flight standards that are more restrictive and provide an extra margin of safety versus the Part 91 regulations used by some operators.”
He continued, “Volato has operated more than 7,000 flights under varying weather conditions safely and believes its rigorous pilot training and professional operating standards will continue to set the bar for safe and reliable HondaJet operations. The recent incident involving a HondaJet runway excursion at Summerville airport on May 18 has led to conjecture questioning the aircraft’s safety and performance. Volato uses a conservative approach to calculate the required runway length and would have assumed this runway was contaminated with standing water which would require more distance to safely stop for all aircraft. For this reason, landing at Summerville Airport under those conditions would not have met Volato’s safety standards.”
Liotta concluded, “Recognizing our leadership role within the HondaJet community, Volato will now invite third-party participants to our annual safety summit, granting access to our unique safety systems, standards, and curriculum.”
According to NBAA, “Runway excursions remain one of the most significant concerns in the industry plaguing novices and professionals alike.”
Voluntary safety stand downs such as the one HJOPA is suggesting are not unprecedented.
For example, charter operator and management company Jet Linx Aviation and OEM Bombardier Aerospace voluntarily hold daylong safety summits annually.
As of 5:30 pm EST, there had been no Jet It HondaJet aircraft in the air today, according to FlightAware.
Jet It did not respond to an email inquiry about when it plans to return its HondaJet fleet to service.