The HondaJet has officially arrived in Europe. Phil Nasskau takes a look at the aircraft that could revolutionise the smaller end of the market.

Honda has certainly set about challenging established business jet practise with the HondaJet. But the market seems happy to accept the automaker’s novel approach.
The HondaJet certainly looks distinctive. The pod-mounted engines are positioned above the wings. This gives the aircraft a unique look, and also helps reduce noise pollution. The engines are mounted behind the wing, which reduces the fan noise reaching the ground and makes the aircraft noticeably quieter.

HondaJet Hitsory

Honda began research into small business jets in 1986 and built is first aircraft, the Honda MH02, as a pure technology demonstrator completely manufactured from composites.

In 1997 the current HondaJet first appeared as a sketch by Michimasa Fujino, president and chief executive of Honda Aircraft. In 1998, Honda began basic research and design configuration. In 1999 Honda unveiled its own jet engine, the HF118, and then established a partnership with GE to develop this concept. The HF120 will also power Spectrum’s S-40 mid-size jet as well as the HondaJet.

In 2000 Honda established of an American R&D facility at Greensboro, NC.

A year later the HondaJet began ground tests to validate the design, and in 2002 Honda published its first technical paper on the jet. On December 3, 2003, the HondaJet took to the sky for the first time, while in 2005 it made its public debut at EAA’s Airvenutre in Oshkosh. 

The nacelle is offset inwards on its pylon to provide easy access to the engine from the ground. And the pylon itself has a complex curvature, to avoid producing a side load in the cruise.

The result of this design effort explains the bulged nose, as this shaping maintains laminar flow over the lower fuselage almost to the entry door and offsets drag from the wide fuselage. The bulged cockpit meanwhile gives the pilot increased headroom.

Honda says that these aerodynamic design elements, coupled with fuel-efficient engines, allow the HondaJet to operate some 30-35% more efficiently than similar jets.

The prototype jet has already achieved some impressive performance figures. It has flown at 43,000ft (13,106m) and at speeds up to 412kt (763km/h). It is expected to meet or exceed all of its design specifications. The GE Honda HF120 engine consists of a two-spool turbofan, a single-stage fan, a two-stage compressor and a two-stage turbine, rated at 1,880lb take-off thrust. It has a 2.9 bypass ratio with an engine pressure ratio of 24. Specific fuel consumption will be less than 0.7lb/hr/lbf, says GE Honda.

At NBAA last September Honda announced a new interior concept for its jet with a focus on “human fit, ergonomic efficiency and safety”. The cockpit also got the makeover treatment and the certified production aircraft will be fitted with a Garmin glass cockpit.

Honda officially put the aircraft on sale to US customers at NBAA in 2006. In early March this year the HondaJet went on sale in Mexico and Canada. Mexico generated the first fractional order for 10 aircraft from Servicios Aéreos Estrella, which will also provide sales and support for the Mexican market.

Honda’s first commercial jet is slated to be in service in 2010. Honda expects to fly a conforming aircraft in early 2009 and achieve FAA and EASA certification in 2010. The company has also partnered with Flight Safety International to provide pilot training. This includes development of Level-D full motion flight simulators, and the first such simulator will be installed Honda Aircraft Company’s facilities in Greensboro, North Carolina, US.


The $3.65m jet has a maximum take off weight of 9,200lb (4,173kg) which puts it at the very top end of the VLJ market and could see its direct competitors being the Cessna Citation Mustang and Embraer’s Phenom 100. Its cabin can accommodate five passengers in an owner/operator configuration or six in an air taxi layout.

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Source: Flight Daily News