An important element in its recent world tour was the participation of the new HondaJet at the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE), held at Geneva, which was its first European appearance.
The new Japanese entry into this most competitive sector was part of a global sales and marketing initiative that has involved a series of launch events aimed at agents and potential customers for the 4-6 seat twin-engine light jet. This is a market that Honda has been keen to enter as its unique product features both an all-new airframe and jet engines manufactured by the same company.
Power comes from two new lightweight GE Honda HF120 turbofans of 2050 lb thrust each. In the well-equipped cockpit there is a Garmin all-glass G3000 avionics system with three 14-in landscape format displays and dual touch-screen controllers. There is an all-metal natural laminar-flow wing aerofoil with winglets, and a composite fuselage supplied by GKN, manufactured in the U.S.
A most unusual design feature of the aircraft is the rear, over-wing mounted engines, which have not been seen since the German VFW-614 in the late 1960s. This configuration is claimed by Honda to offer reduced aerodynamic drag, improved performance, and a very quiet cabin. At first glance the airplane looks like any other small jet in its class, but it is only when seen close up that the unusual engine positioning becomes more obvious.
The HondaJet cabin interior has a “bigger on the inside than the outside” look with best-in class luggage space and legroom and multi-axis sliding passenger seats. The company has concentrated on fitting out the new bizjet with an attractive and comfortable interior with attention to detail, so that its small size does not result in an enclosed environment, yet includes all the passenger features that will be expected from discriminating customers.
Offering a blend of a modern specification with value-for-money (around $4.5 million), HondaJet is still at the early stages of being seen as a major player in the market, up against such well established rivals as Cessna, LearJet, and Embraer, who all offer much larger product lines, as well as the entry-level and light jet niche in the business jet market. The HondaJet program has been underway for a long time—over a decade—and the company is now anxious to show that it has eventually emerged with a competitive product.
HondaJet has established a new global headquarters, final assembly plant, and customer service center at Greensboro, NC, which has a capacity to deliver up to 80-100 aircraft each year. So far, over 100 aircraft are currently on order and the company is very much hoping that the international exposure of the demonstrator aircraft will lift the sales momentum this year.
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