NBAA Convention News

Honda sets a price and reveals specs for its VLJ

 - November 8, 2006, 6:23 AM

Honda Aircraft revealed a number of intriguing details about the HondaJet program yesterday, including the airplane’s price, performance figures and the fine points of its service-network alliance with Piper Aircraft.

Price of the HondaJet in standard five-passenger configuration will be $3.65 million in 2006 dollars, and it will be equipped with a three-display Garmin avionics package. An air-taxi version with six passengers and two pilot seats will also be available. Honda plans to certify the jet for single-pilot operations under FAA Part 23 regulations and commence deliveries in 2010, and the company submitted a type certificate application to the FAA on October 11.

The jet will be manufactured in the U.S., although Honda officials did not reveal the location of the factory. The air-taxi version was necessary, according to Michimasa Fujino, president and CEO of Honda Aircraft, “to satisfy strong demand from air-taxi operators.”

The NBAA announcement signaled the start of order-taking by Honda Aircraft’s sales operation. “The HondaJet is on sale,” said Honda spokesman Jeffrey Smith.

Information released by Honda three years ago shows a 9,200-pound maximum takeoff weight. Specifications released on Tuesday by Honda include a useful load of 3,378 pounds and maximum payload of 1,400 pounds. The jet will be powered, naturally, by two 2.8:1 bypass ratio GE/Honda Aircraft Engines HF120 turbofans each delivering 1,880 pounds of takeoff thrust. Performance includes maximum cruise speed of 420 knots at 30,000 feet, maximum altitude of 43,000 feet and 3,990 fpm initial climb rate. Pressurization differential is 8.7, which maintains cabin altitude below 8,000 feet at the maximum altitude. Range is 1,400 nm with VFR reserves and 1,180 nm with NBAA IFR reserves (100 nm alternate). Takeoff distance above a 35-foot obstacle plus a 15 percent factor, as Honda’s specification put it, is 3,120 feet, and landing distance is 2,500 feet. Compared to a similar-size and -performing jet, the HondaJet’s cruise efficiency is 30 to 35 percent better, according to Fujino.

Honda is displaying both the HondaJet prototype and a fuselage mockup at its NBAA booth. The mockup shows the standard five-passenger, two pilot interior, with a dropped aisle, which offers 4.9 feet of standing room. Four seats are arranged club-style, and a fifth seat faces the door. A refreshment center separates the cockpit from the cabin. Aft of the passenger seats is the lavatory, with flushing toilet and solid doors for privacy. Two external baggage compartments are available, one in the nose with nine cubic feet of space and 57 cu ft of space in the aft fuselage.

The Garmin avionics package runs on three cockpit displays, two 12-inch diagonal PFDs on each side flanking a huge 15-inch MFD in the center of the panel. Garmin is also providing the autopilot/flight control system. Garmin has been working with Honda for five years, according to Gary Kelley, Garmin vice president of marketing.

The HondaJet prototype, which is equipped with the same Garmin avionics, has already flown with Garmin’s autopilot system, too, Kelley said. An interesting feature on the HondaJet, seen in the fuselage mockup, is a touch-screen electronic display, one in each pilot’s armrest, that appears to be for controlling electronic circuit breakers and switches.

The HondaJet is not all-composite. The fuselage is made of honeycomb sandwich material plus co-cured stiffened panels, which help stiffen the fuselage to maintain a constant cross section and maximize cabin volume. The wings are made of aluminum and also must be strong enough to support the unusual pylons on which engines are mounted. Reinforced wing ribs provide the structure for the engine pylons.

Landing gear will feature trailing-link main gear and anti-lock brakes. Flight controls are standard cables and push-pull rods actuated by a column-mounted control wheels. The HondaJet’s fuel will be held primarily in the wings, and refueling will be via a single-point system feeding a carry-through tank that pumps into the integral wing tanks. An automatic crossfeed system will maintain fuel balance between the wings.

Honda Aircraft has selected four U.S. Piper distributors to sell and service the HondaJet, and Honda will also add centers so that owners are never more than 90 minutes away.