Honda, a company most famous for its award-winning line of automobiles, motorcycles, and home improvement equipment, is entering into some very unfamiliar territory — private jets.
After nearly 30 years of development, the HondaJet marks the company’s entry into the $US23 billion-a-year general aviation industry.
When it enters service, the $US4.5 million North Carolina-produced HondaJet will compete in the very light jet segment of the market against already-established models, such as Embraer’s Phenom 100 and Cessna’s Citation Mustang.
According to the AP’s Yuri Kageyama, Honda already has 100 orders for the jet — on sale now in the US and Europe — with deliveries set to begin later this year.
To show off its latest mobility offering, Honda is taking the jet on a world tour that kicked off this week with a ceremony at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.
“To offer personal mobility in the skies was the dream of Soichiro Honda and the dream of us Honda men,” Honda president Takanobu Ito told the press in Tokyo. “Today is a symbolic day.”
Honda Aircraft CEO Michimasa Fujino revealed a truly fascinating tidbit of information at the ceremony — the nose design of the jet was inspired by a pair of Salvatore Ferragamo high heels he encountered at a duty free shop while on vacation in Hawaii.
According the Wall Street Journal, Fujino told the press that he was inspired by the designer footwear because it represented beauty, comfort, and functionality.
Designer heels aside, it will also feature one of the most unique engine layouts in civil aviation, with two GE Honda HF120 turbofans mounted on top of its wings. This design eschews the conventional business jet layout that calls for engines to be mounted at the rear of the fuselage.
By dispersing much of the engine’s noise away from the fuselage, the jet will save passengers from suffering the same ear-shattering din as those unfortunate enough to be seated in the last few rows of other rear-engined aircraft.
According to the company, the over-wing engine design also gives the cabin greater usable space by removing the interior superstructure needed to support the engines.
The aircraft’s HF120 turbofans will power the six-passenger HondaJet to a top speed of 483 mph and a maximum range of over 1,300 miles. Honda’s technical wizardry also shows up in the jet’s interior, with a state-of-the-art cockpit packed with features like touchscreen controls, a trio of 14-inch displays, and Garmin’s G3000 avionics suite.
Have a closer look at Honda’s new HondaJet: