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PICTURE: Delivery first for Japanese-owned HondaJet Elite

Honda Aircraft has delivered the first HondaJet Elite to a Japanese customer.

The handover on 20 December to local businessman Kotaro Chiba, comes two weeks after the light business jet – an upgraded version of the baseline HondaJet – received certification from the country's civil aviation authority, the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau.

At a dedicated ceremony at Tokyo's Haneda airport to mark the event, Honda Aircraft chief executive Michimasa Fujino described the delivery as "a major milestone for Honda's aviation business". He says it is the company's "dream to see the HondaJet flying in the skies above Honda's home country of Japan".

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The Elite was introduced in May and entered service in August. It is the first major revamp to the HondaJet since the type entered service in December 2015.

The $5.25 million aircraft has a host of new features, including an auxiliary fuel tank to increase range by 230nm (426km) to 1,440nm, a 45kg (100lb) rise in maximum take-off weight to 4,860kg and a quieter, revamped interior featuring a small galley and a lavatory with a belted seat that can accommodate a fifth passenger,

Flight Fleets Analyzer records a global in-service fleet of 100 HondaJets, and orders for 62 aircraft, including 10 from Japanese customers.

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