Honda Aircraft intends to launch a follow-on aircraft development program soon after completing certification of the HA-420 HondaJet late next year to keep its design staff intact, confirms chief executive Michimasa Fujino.
Fujino declines to release most design details, but agrees the Embraer light jet series with the five-seat Phenom 100 and the seven-seat Phenom 300 is a useful model. The five-seat HA-420 most closely resembles the size and speed of the Phenom 100.
Honda Aircraft's design philosophy is based on a careful compromise. Fujino says he does not wish to sacrifice the performance of the follow-on aircraft by adhering too closely to the design of the HA-420.
At the same time, he compares Honda Aircraft's strategy to the visual branding techniques used by auto manufacturers. "When you see an Acura, an Audi or a BMW, you know what car it is," he says. Similarly, the next Honda jet will likely retain the distinctive over-the-wing engine configuration of the HA-420, as well as the bulbous shape of the cockpit windows, Fujino says.
Where the aircraft may depart in design philosophy are the changes necessary to increase the speed of the aircraft. The straight-wing HA-420 already enjoys a 30ktas advantage in maximum cruise-speed over the Phenom 100, but falls about 43ktas short of the swept-wing Phenom 300.
The HA-420 has been waiting for GE Honda Aero Engines to complete certification of the HF120 before launching airworthiness testing. The HF120 is not scheduled to complete certification until May, but Honda Aircraft could launch flight testing before the engine is formally certified, Fujino says. Honda Aircraft estimates five HA-420s must complete about 1,500h of flight testing.
GE Honda Aero Engines is preparing to offer a larger variant of the HF120 engine core for Honda Aircraft's follow-on aircraft project, but it is not clear if it will be accepted. Asked whether Honda Aircraft may seek bids from other engine makers, Fujino declined to comment.