Honda Explores Aviation Options

August 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Features

Hallmarks of Honda’s products have always been great design, innovation and low cost. This certainly continues to be the case with the company’s new venture into the realm of aviation. The Honda Aircraft Company Inc (HACI) has been hard at work creating the recently released HondaJet.

The new HondaJet is a 5/6 + 2 seat jet with a changeable configuration that can make the aircraft suitable as an air taxi or business jet. As is typical of the company, they’ve broken a few rules and come out on top. One of the first things you’ll notice about the aircraft is that the engines have not been placed at the rear section of the fuselage as is typical of business jets. Instead they have been uniquely positioned above the aircraft’s wings. Previously it was thought that this position would increase drag and reduce range, but it seems that extensive modelling and testing has proved that the concept doesn’t just fly – it flies well. And the change in design means that HondaJet owners can enjoy more cabin space.

Another very prominent feature is the unusual shape of the aircraft’s nose. A far cry from the sleek, narrow facades we’ve become used to seeing in this kind of aircraft, one cannot but help wonder why Honda chose this design. It turns out that not only does the bulbous front create extra room in the cockpit, but that it improves laminar flow over the fuselage. This further helps to reduce drag and so improves range.

Clearly chief designer and Honda Aircraft Company Inc CEO Michimasa Fujino has invested a lot of time and money in developing the aircraft’s design. The end product is an aircraft that has a comparable range and carrying capacity to the Citation CJ1 + (Cessna). However the plane is smaller and retails for around $3.6m instead of the $4.3m price tag on its competitor aircraft. The GE/Honda HF 120 engines that have been fitted to the aircraft also make it possible for the HondaJet to reach higher max cruise speeds than the Cessna – something which may be curtailed in future. With the executive jet market suffering as it is, this economical, well-designed, cheaper aircraft will likely receive a lot more attention from prospective buyers than its competitors.

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