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Tue, May 23, 2023

Jet It HondaJet Fleet Remains Grounded

Safety Stand-Down Ongoing

On Friday, 19 May, Jet It—the North Carolina-based charter and fractional ownership concern—initiated a safety stand down in the wake of an 18 May Summerville, South Carolina (DYB) runway excursion involving a private HondaJet operator.

The excursion occurred on a five-thousand-foot runway believed to have been wet at the time of the incident.

In 2022, Jet It ranked as the world’s 12th largest private jet operator by the metrics of charter and fractional flight hours. Jet It’s fleet comprises Honda’s HondaJet and Embraer Phenom 300 exclusively.

On 22 May 2023, Jet It CEO Glenn Gonzalez emailed his company’s customers for purpose of informing such that Jet It’s HondaJet fleet remained grounded in a safety standdown.

Mr. Gonzalez wrote:

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.

Sincerely,

Glenn Gonzales
Jet It | CEO

A group representing HondaJet owners subsequently condemned Mr. Gonzalez’s email, tacitly alleging hyperbole and misrepresentation of salient facts.

In an email to the members of the HondaJet Owners & Pilots Association (HJOPA), association executive director Julie Hughes 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.

Ms. Hughes added:

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.

In an accompanying video, Ms. Hughes stated eight instances of HondaJet runway excursions and overruns had occurred in the preceding 12 months, explaining she sought merely to address “the recent rise in incidents and accidents involving our HondaJet aircraft.”

Ms. Hughes’s letter continued:

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.

Ms. Hughes stated she was surprised to learn of Mr. Gonzalez’s email, stating: “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 addressing the dispute, a HondaJet spokesperson set forth:

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.

The statement continued:

Honda Aircraft Company is actively supporting the investigation of a recent accident of a customer aircraft on May 18, 2023, at Summerville Airport (DYB), 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.

The HondaJet spokesperson’s statement concluded:

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.

Gonzalez and HondaJet have been at odds since October 2022, when Jet It disclosed its intentions to adopt Embraer’s Phenom 300 platform.

In a November 2022 email to shareowners regarding sales calls pertaining to Jet It’s new Embraer offering, Gonzalez blasted Honda and the HondaJet, alleging the aircraft was unreliable and characterizing the OEM’s support of the jet as “grossly inadequate.”

In December 2022, HondaJet sued Jet It for allegedly reselling an aircraft the latter company had taken delivery of. That case was settled out of court.

Competing aircraft fractional ownership concerns Volato and Jet Token both feature and operate the HondaJet.

In a written statement, Jet Token’s Chairman remarked:

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 asserted in a written statement of his own:

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.

Mr. Liotta’s statement continued:

Volato has operated more than seven-thousand 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.

Mr. 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 the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), “Runway excursions remain one of the most significant concerns in the industry plaguing novices and professionals alike.”

Voluntary safety stand downs such as that proposed by HJOPA are not without precedent. Charter operator and aircraft management company Jet Linx Aviation and OEM Bombardier Aerospace voluntarily hold annual, daylong safety summits.

FMI: www.hjopa.org

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