HondaJet HA-420 has been finally granted Part 23 certification by the Federal Aviation Administration. Honda Aircraft Company, a newly established Japanese aircraft manufacturer, wants to make first aircraft delivery by the end of this year. Only time will show whether or not the small business aircraft, which is presently considered to be the fastest, most specious, and most fuel efficient jet in its class, has enough selling points to compete effectively with well-established industry players.
After almost three decades of research and development efforts, Michimasa Fujino, President and CEO of Honda Aircraft Company, has successfully accomplished his life time project the HondaJet HA-420. What Mr. Fujino had started in 1986 as a top-secret project within the company to develop a jet with turboprop efficiency, culminated on Dec 08, 2015 when the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration granted the type certificate to Honda Aircraft. It is anticipated first aircraft deliveries will begin at the end of this month. The new aircraft manufacturer plans to deliver between 40 and 50 aircraft within the first production year and then additional 75 aircraft in 2017. Presently Honda Aircraft Company has a backlog of more than 100 aircraft, and 25 plans are on the production line in the final assembly stage. Despite the fact the HondaJet HA-420 is the new kid on the block, the future success of the very light jet seems to be inevitable especially when we realize the Honda Aircraft Company is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Honda Motor Company which has the potential to back up almost any financial pitfall.
Michimasa Fujino, President and CEO of Honda Aircraft Company
Small Business Jet – Industry Game Changer
I am personally convinced Honda Aircraft Company delivered to the market a highly successful very light business jet which is a true industry game changer. Honda Motor Company has a long-term well established history of delivering innovative technologies and designs and that DNA is prominently reflected in the HondaJet HA-420 project. Michimasa Fujino had taken a very bold design approach and decided to place aircraft engines above wings. Although this design concept seems to be against all industry standards, the CEO of Honda Aircraft Company approved the idea of developing a unique engine mounting design called “over-the-wing engine mounting” or OTWEM.
HondaJet – Over-the-Wing Engine Mounting Design
Mr. Fujino’s decision reflects the combination of intuition and scientific evidence in his decision-making. First Michimasa Fujino believed that placing engines above wings will enable the airplane to be more efficient, and subsequently he proved his line of thought scientifically in a Boeing wind tunnel in which aerodynamic characteristics of HondaJet were extensively tested. The final test results clearly indicated the over-the-wing engine mounting design makes the aircraft not only more efficient than a clean wing design but also allows the plane to achieve greater speed and altitude. Another benefit obtained from the OTWEM design makes easier to stretch the aircraft fuselage. Consequently the HondaJet has 20% larger cabin from its competitors. Without doubt it is a great selling point to attract more customer. The engine discussion cannot be finished without pointing out Honda Aircraft Company initially planned to equip its jet with an engine from other manufacturer. Ultimately Michimasa Fujino decided to embark on a HondaJet engine development project in partnership with GE Aviation, and both companies brought to life the GE-Honda HF20 turbofan engine specifically developed for the HondaJet HA-420 aircraft.
HondaJet in the Sky
Honda Aircraft Company took another innovative approach to differentiate its new jet from the crowed when decided to develop for HondaJet a carbon fiber composite fuselage. I think it is HondaJet’s distinctive advantage, and customers will highly appreciate to acquire the aircraft with a composite fuselage which is stronger and lighter than aluminium. The small light business jet has also very uniquely designed nose and leading edges further enhancing its aerodynamic characteristics. It should come as no surprise the HondaJet HA-420 possesses a solid competitive advantage, and the company says these innovations make the aircraft the fastest, most specious, and most fuel efficient jet in its class. When we add to these best benchmarks the fact that the airplane is equipped with a lavatory, something unusual in this class, it becomes apparent the long-term success of HondaJet is unquestionable.
Greensboro, NC – Main Production Facility
At the list price of $4.5 million for each aircraft, HondaJet targets the bottom end of the market offering customers a highly advanced aircraft with many selling points derived from serious research activities. Honda Aircraft Company strategically placed its main production facility in the US at the Piedmont Triangle International Airport in Greensboro, NC in 2000 and presently its workforce is composed of 1,700 employees working at 500,000 square feet facility.
Production Facility in Greensboro, NC
A ten year long industry forecast conducted by Honeywell indicates there will be a need for about 9,450 new business jets within the next decade, and the total value of those jets is estimated at about $280 billion. Taking into consideration the fact that more than quarter of those jets belongs to HondaJet’s class, it can be concluded or assumed Honda Aircraft Company seems to be on the track to establish its airplane as a world-leading small business jet in its class and to achieve long-term financial success.
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