The HondaJet HA-420 received its FAA certification yesterday, making a major milestone for the Japanese manufacturer as it pursues its entry into small executive craft. You may scratch your head at the notion of the same people that make your neighbor’s Accord building a jet, but here’s why the HondaJet is the real deal.
30 Years in the Making
This was far more than just some flight of fancy. It took three decades and nearly $2 billion to make it happen. Michimasa Fujino started toying with the idea of a small luxury jet back in the 1980s. In 1986, Honda created special R&D teams to pursue various ventures. One team worked with robotics and ended up creating Asimo. Fujino, who was 26 at the time, was tapped to look into planes. The first tangible prototype was the MH02 business jet concept that Honda debuted in 1993. You can see elements of that jet in the HA-420. It was through the vision and hard work of Michimasa Fujino, who is now the President and CEO of Honda Aircraft Company
Not the First to Employ Its Unique Design
If you notice, the HondaJet appears smaller than an average executive jet, with a unique design, with the engine nacelles located at the rear and above the wing. According to a recent Forbes story on Fujino, he was looking for the perfect spot for the 465-pound engines when he had a “chance encounter” with an old textbook. It provided the guidance for the design, which was tested in a Boeing wind tunnel, and proved to have impressive aerodynamics at higher speeds. Such engine placement has been used in the past, by the likes of the massive Dornier Do X, Beriev Be-200 Altair, and VFW-Fokker 614, among others.
Not The Weirdest Design You’ll See in the Skies
The placement of the engines on the HA-420 might be unique compared to the status quo of executive jets, but that’s only because the last 60 years have been pretty much all the same o small jets. That’s all about to change. With the affordability of new materials and components and advancements in computer-aided design, there are a whole slew of new light jets on the horizon and while some stick to the script, many are taking design norm and throwing them out the window. Just look at jets like the Flaris LAR 01, Epic Victory, Sport Jet II, and others. They are finding new ways to integrate engines into the fuselage while still retaining usable space. It’s a brave new world for jet design!
The HondaJet HA-420 starts at $4.5 million. Special interior appointments will surely cost more. The jet weighs 10,000 pounds, and has a capacity of 4-6 with a crew of one or two. On those unique nacelles are a pair of GE Honda HF120 turbofan engines, each capable of 2,050 lbs. of thrust). It has an expected top speed 420 knots (483 mph), a cruising speed of 261 knots (300 mph), and a range of 1,358 miles with four occupants.
A Historic Occassion
The HA-420 received its certification in North Carolina, the same state where the Wright Brothers made the first controlled, manned, heavier-than-air powered flight in Kitty Hawk, N.C. Not only did Honda get certified in N.C., but production of the HA-420 will take place in the Tar Heel State. Honda has not said how many planes have been ordered, but claim it is “more than 100.” Honda expects it will built anywhere between 40 and 50 planes in the first year of production, and move up to a projected 75 per year after that.