Flying the HondaJet to Dubai for its MEBAA show debut naturally involved a few extra stops for Mike Finbow, sales demonstration pilot for HondaJet Northern Europe. But overall, the weather was nearly perfect and the tailwinds strong. Finbow departed from Chester, UK, on December 2 in HondaJet M-HNDA (serial number 18, Isle of Man registration) and landed in Dubai on December 3.
The HondaJet’s maximum range while carrying four passengers and reserve fuel is 1,223 nautical miles, so Finbow made three stops on the way to Dubai. On the first day, he flew from Chester to Bari Palese Airport on southern Italy’s Adriatic coastline, a distance of 1,075 nm in two hours, 52 minutes. After refueling, he continued another 527 nm and 1.5 hours to Heraklion on the Greek island Crete, where he spent the night.
The following day, the first leg was 653 nm to Hurghada Airport in eastern Egypt. The final leg was the longest at 1,168 nm (as the crow flies) but 1,280 nm as routed over the width of Saudi Arabia then Bahrain and into Dubai. That leg took two hours, 56 minutes’ flight time and 2,300 pounds of fuel, leaving plenty of fuel (550 pounds) in reserve.
The flight’s block time from Egypt was slightly longer than the flight time because the runway and ramp configuration at Hurghada required a 15-minute taxi to position the HondaJet on the appropriate runway for takeoff, according to Finbow. He believes the Egypt-Dubai leg might have set an unofficial speed record for the HondaJet, which can cruise at up to 422 knots and as high as 43,000 feet. “This is my first time in Dubai,” he said. “The weather was gin clear” when he arrived after sunset on Saturday evening after watching the sun set over the Saudi Arabian desert.
Before adding the HondaJet type rating in May, Finbow had been flying a Cessna Citation Bravo for about seven years and more recently a Citation Mustang, both of which he flies for Birmingham-based Marshall Aircraft Sales. That company holds the HondaJet Northern Europe dealership covering the UK north of London and the Channel Islands, Scandinavia and the Benelux countries. He is one of two European pilots currently type rated in the HondaJet, although that number will certainly grow as more HondaJets are delivered in Europe. The HA-420 HondaJet received EASA certification in May, and on November 23, the FAA issued the HondaJet’s flight-into-known-icing certification.
The HondaJet here in Dubai is the first delivered in the UK and the second in Europe. Finbow flew it to Birmingham from the Honda Aircraft factory in Greensboro, North Carolina, starting on May 13, immediately after receiving his type rating, along with a Honda factory pilot. That flight went from Greensboro to Bangor, Maine; Iqaluit, Canada; Kangerlussuaq, Greenland; Reykjavik, Iceland; then Birmingham for a total flight time of about 12 hours.
Finbow praised the FlightSafety International HondaJet type-rating training program in Greensboro, especially the training tools that brought him up to speed on the jet’s Garmin G3000 flight deck before he even got to the simulator. “When I got into the simulator,” he said, “I felt like I had been in the aircraft 100 times. I knew where everything was and exactly what it was doing.”
Including the trip to Dubai, Finbow has now accumulated 60 hours in the HondaJet. “I love it,” he said. “It’s really a joy to fly, it does everything so well.” He also praised the fit and finish of the light jet. “It’s like getting out of an [old car] into a new Mercedes-Benz.”