Honda Aircraft delivered its first European HondaJet 20 April 2016, the next step in the production ramp that will lead to approximately 40 deliveries in the next 12 months, according to President and CEO Michimasa Fujino.
The HondaJet received type certification from the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on 09 December 2015. Honda Aircraft Company and the FAA made the announcement at the Honda Aircraft headquarters in Greensboro, North Carolina. Honda Aircraft Company validated the HondaJet’s performance, safety, function and reliability through rigorous ground and flight tests with the FAA. Total flight hours exceeded 3,000, with testing conducted at more than 70 locations across the United States.
With HondaJet FAA type certification achieved, Honda Aircraft is now ramping up production in Greensboro with 25 aircraft on the final assembly line. The Honda Aircraft workforce is nearing 1,700 people, as the company prepared for deliveries, pilot training and after-sales customer service and support.
The HA-420 is a four to five passenger (depending on configuration), two crew, lightweight business jet with a 43,000-foot service ceiling and a maximum takeoff weight of 9963 pounds. The airplane is powered by two GE-Honda Aero Engines (GHAE) HF-120 turbofan engines. The advanced light jet will be able to cruise at 420 knots and fly 1,180 nautical miles on a tank of jet fuel. Thanks to fuel-efficient jet engines and an aerodynamic, lightweight design, the HondaJet is expected to achieve an increase in fuel efficiency of 30 to 35 percent compared to similar light jets.
Honda R&D Americas, Inc., Greensboro, NC, tested new designs at the National Transonic Facility (NTF) at Langley Research Center. The tests provided data collection opportunities for Honda engineers as they were designing the HondaJet, an experimental VLJ that debuted at the air show 28 July 2004. Honda used the unique capabilities of the NTF earlier this year to assess aspects of high-speed flight performance prior to flight test.
Key production specifications and performance figures for HondaJet establish it as the fastest and most fuel efficient jet in its class while setting a new standard for interior space and comfort. HondaJet features a class-topping cruise speed of 420 knots with an IFR range of 1180 nautical miles1, and a 30-35 percent gain in fuel efficiency versus other jets of comparable performance. HondaJet’s cabin is about 1-foot longer than even larger ‘light jet’ offerings, and features a fully-private lavatory along with a spacious 57-cubic foot aft cargo hold.
It’s most unique and recognizable feature – the over-the-wing engine mount (OTWEM) configuration – liberates precious fuselage space by eliminating the carry-through structures of conventional fuselage-mounted engine designs while significantly reducing aerodynamic drag at high speeds. Its natural laminar flow (NLF) wing and fuselage nose further reduce drag, contributing to HondaJet’s speed and fuel efficiency.
HondaJet’s all-composite fuselage uses a combination of honeycomb sandwich and stiffened panel structures cured integrally using a patented process. This unique construction results in lower fuselage weight while contributing to HondaJet’s unusually sleek and smooth appearance. An advanced, customized, all-glass cockpit based on the state-of-the-art Garmin avionics platform, boasts new features and capabilities unique to HondaJet.
The new HondaJet features the HF120 jet engine from GE Honda Aero Engines, a joint venture of Honda and the General Electric Company. The engine is also expected to boost the fuel economy of a new mid-size business jet from Spectrum Aerodynamics. Called the Spectrum Freedom S-40, the new jet will cruise at 435 knots and fly as far as 2,200 nautical miles while using "significantly less" fuel than comparable aircraft, according to Spectrum. The company achieves its fuel efficiency in part by using lightweight composite materials made of carbon fiber and epoxy. Like the HondaJet, the Spectrum Freedom S-40 was expected to be available in 2010.
HondaJet will be offered in two interior configurations: with seating for seven (2 pilots and 5 passengers) in standard configuration, and with seating for eight (2 pilots and six forward-facing passenger seats) in air taxi configuration. HondaJet’s cabin offers its passengers unprecedented levels of comfort with as much as six inches more leg room (per passenger) than competitive offerings. HondaJet’s 57 cubic-foot aft cargo hold is as much as 50 percent larger than other jets in its class. Additional cargo storage is provided by a nine cubic-foot nose cargo hold.
Honda began selling its newest fuel-efficient vehicle at a much higher price than the rest of its lineup: a whopping $3.65 million. Although the HondaJet was not scheduled for production until 2010, the Honda Aircraft Company, Inc. set product specifications and started taking orders on 17 October 2006 for the advanced light jet. Honda planned to build the jet in the United States, gradually ramping up to a production speed of 70 jets per year. As of October 19th, after three days of sales, the company had already received more than 100 customer orders and deposits.
On October 11, 2006, Honda Aircraft Company applied for a type certificate for their new Model HA-420. On October 10, 2013, Honda Aircraft Company requested an extension with an effective application date of October 1, 2013. This extension changed the type certification basis to amendment 23-62.
Honda Aircraft Co. was established in Guilford County in August 2006 to oversee production, certification, sales and service of the HondaJet. Honda Aircraft Company, Inc. -- a subsidiary of Honda Motor Co. -- selected Piedmont Triad International Airport in February 2007 for its HondaJet world headquarters and manufacturing facilities. Honda will invest up to $100 million in this project and will, over five years, create 300 jobs that pay an average of more than $70,000 per year. According to the Governor’s office, “HondaJet is a new innovative, lightweight private business jet. Its unique construction makes it more fuel-efficient and less costly to operate than similar aircraft on the market today. The jet also has faster cruising speeds than conventional aircraft in its class.”
The HA-420 airplane uses a cruise speed control system (CSC), which is part of the automatic flight control system (AFCS), to reduce pilot workload during cruise flight only. The intended function is automatic airplane speed control during altitude hold AFCS mode by adjustment of the engine thrust within a narrow authority band utilizing the existing engine synchronization control. The CSC system does not back drive the throttles. The command authority is limited to values used for engine synchronization and can only be engaged when the throttle is positioned in a pre-determined range typically used for cruise power. This significantly reduces the CSC authority such that failure modes of the system should be minor.
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