Honda Aircraft’s new light jet, which features a unique over-the-wing engine mount configuration, is making both its Middle Eastern and MEBAA debut this week in Dubai at the show static display, as the company evaluates the market for the $4.85 million HA-420 HondaJet in the region.
“The appearance at MEBAA is to engage with prospective customers and our show presence will help us determine the best timing of Honda Aircraft’s entrance in the Middle East market,” Honda Aircraft president and CEO Michimasa Fujino told AIN. “With that said, we have not yet appointed a dealer to represent the Middle East.”
Unlike the majority of business jet manufacturers that direct sell to customers, the Greensboro, North Carolina-based aircraft manufacturer has a network of sales and service centers—a philosophy that it adopted from Japanese sister company Honda Motor. It has already established dealers in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, Brazil and Western Europe, but not yet in the rest of the world, including in the Middle East.
However, that hasn’t dampened interest in the Gulf states, so Honda Aircraft is leveraging the MEBAA show to gain more insight into the market for its composite-fuselage light jet and scope out dealer prospects. “We have received many inquiries for the HondaJet, including requests to appear at events like MEBAA,” said Fujino. “Honda Aircraft continues to evaluate new and emerging markets as part of our overall global sales strategy and plan. Entrance into a new market requires identifying the right representative in each territory to provide HondaJet customers with the best service and support from day one.”
The HondaJet is powered by the GE Honda HF120 turbofan, and avionics are a three-display, touchscreen-controlled Garmin G3000 system. Performance numbers include 422-knot maximum cruise speed, four-occupant NBAA IFR range of 1,223 nm and 43,000-foot maximum cruise altitude. The engine mounting arrangement makes available space for a fully enclosed lavatory and seating for up to seven occupants.
“Its high speed, quiet and comfortable cabin, sporty styling and handling have appealed especially to savvy Middle East prospects and aircraft enthusiasts, Fujino noted. “With a range that connects the entire Arabian Peninsula, this region could benefit from the HondaJet.”
Honda Aircraft has also taken a more automotive approach to interior outfitting and paint. It currently offers five exterior paint schemes—blue, silver, red, yellow and green—and two interior color palettes: parchment and moonlight. However, there is little else customization besides these choices—the cabin layout comes only in an aft club-four seat arrangement with a side-facing seat opposite the entry door and rear lavatory.
Since receiving U.S. Federal Aviation Administration certification last December, and subsequent approvals from the European Aviation Safety Agency and Mexico’s DGAC, there are 19 HondaJets operating in the U.S., Mexico and Europe. “The feedback has been great,” he said. “Customers have especially mentioned the aircraft’s excellent performance such as high speed, high rate of climb, fuel efficiency, and the very quiet and spacious cabin. They are also impressed with solid handling and riding qualities in turbulence, which shows a distinctive difference from existing light jets.”
According to Fujino, the fleet has been performing “very well and the reliability has been excellent.” The in-service HondaJet fleet has logged more than 3,000 hours to date.
Honda Aircraft is now targeting type certification in Canada early next year, with Brazil approval to follow that. It received FAA approval for flight into known icing (FIKI) on November 23.
Fujino also sees great potential for the HondaJet in other world regions, especially in Asia. “We will continue to evaluate new and emerging markets based on interest and as part of our global sales strategy,” he said. Honda Aircraft eventually plans to develop a family of aircraft, though Fujino remains tight-lipped about what will follow next.