Flying the HondaJet simulator

 - December 18, 2006, 12:19 PM

Honda engineers built a non-motion simulator–the Honda Nonlinear Aerodynamics Flight Simulator–for test-pilot training and to evaluate the flight characteristics of the jet’s configuration. Tests conducted on the simulator include deep stall, spin, one-engine-out and deployment of the dynamic spin chute.

The simulator has a 180-degree by 40-degree field of view visual display and the HondaJet’s three-screen Garmin avionics suite, all run by two personal computers. An electronic control loading system provides realistic control-force feedback to pilots.

With Honda Aircraft engineer Hiroshi Otsubo in the right seat, I took off from Piedmont Triad Airport, rotating at 105 knots. I had to pull back fairly hard to get the simulated HondaJet to rotate, but it didn’t overpitch during rotation. The elevator and ailerons work together harmoniously, although it is easy to overcontrol the ailerons. In a steep turn, I found that very little aft pitch was needed to stay level.

I tried a stall with gear and flaps down, and the simulated HondaJet jet slowed to about 80 knots with little–if any–pre-stall buffet, then it stalled and the right wing dropped dramatically. I recovered by adding full power, dropping the nose and leveling the wing. Otsubo said that the stall buffet isn’t very pronounced and that the simulator is programmed to drop a wing rapidly to show pilots what happens if they enter a full stall. The simulator does not have a stick shaker.

The avionics suite is very similar to Garmin’s G1000 system and should be an easy transition for pilots used to that system.

Returning to the simulated Piedmont Triad, I lowered the landing gear after slowing to less than 200 knots, then started adding flaps at 160 knots. Vref was 120 knots, and at that speed the ailerons were still quite sensitive.

I didn’t remember until too late to ask if I could deploy the spin-chute to see how that worked in the simulator. Maybe next time.