Honda Aircraft unveiled a new version of its light jet at EBACE 2018, the HondaJet Elite. More than just a cosmetic upgrade, the Elite expands the light jet’s performance envelope while adding interior improvements and significant updates to the Garmin G3000-based flight deck.
While the amended type certificate for the HondaJet Elite was issued by the FAA on May 2 and it is also EASA certified, Honda Aircraft engineers have been working on the improvements since the jet first achieved certification in December 2015, according to company president and CEO Michimasa Fujino.
“The HondaJet Elite represents Honda Aircraft’s continued commitment to performance, efficiency, and environment creating new value in business aviation,” he said. “The result of innovation, design, and engineering, our new aircraft features several performance and comfort enhancements that, once again, set a new standard in aviation.”
Thanks to additional fuel capacity and aerodynamic improvements that include removal of vortex generators on the empennage and winglet leading edges and a slightly wider elevator, the HondaJet needs less runway for takeoff and can fly further. NBAA IFR range with four passengers is now 1,437 nm, up 17 percent from 1,223 nm.
On the empennage, in addition to removal of the vortex generators, the improvements came from extending the horizontal stabilizer tips slightly and tightening up hinge gaps. The improvements eliminated the need for the vortex generators, allowing energized flow over the stabilizer without the devices. “It’s much sleeker looking now,” Fujino said.
Maximum takeoff weight is up 100 pounds, but some weight-shaving measures carved about 107 pounds from the empty weight, for a more than 200-pound payload increase. Weight reduction came from removal of the vortex generators and small but cumulative tweaks to systems and structure. The additional fuel amounts to 16 gallons, achieved by redesigning the aft fuselage fuel tank to fill some unused available space in the aft fuselage.
Next to the fuel filler, a lighted push switch has been added, and when pushed before fueling begins, it warns the fueler to slow the fuel flow when the fuel starts to fill the aft tank. This avoids fuel spillage, because at that point the fuel flow must be slowed for the tank to fill properly without overflowing. The fuel neck was also redesigned to make it easier to insert the fuel nozzle.
Interior and exterior noise have been lowered significantly with a unique design feature, a perforated aluminum-honeycomb sandwich engine inlet engineered to cut fan blade passage noise. This technology is based on NASA noise-reduction research, although Honda Aircraft’s application of this technology is proprietary and it has applied for a patent. The noise reduction also contributed to the reduction in weight, by allowing removal of some insulation in the fuselage.
The engine inlet close to the fan features thousands of holes positioned “to mitigate fan noise,” Fujino explained. While the HondaJet’s unique over-the-wing engine mounting reduces low-frequency vibrations significantly because they aren’t transmitted into the fuselage, fan passage noise is generated at a higher frequency. Honda Aircraft engineers conducted sophisticated testing to isolate this noise and design the specific perforation pattern to mitigate the high-frequency vibrations. The result is a significant reduction in high-frequency noise, although Fujino didn’t want to specify a number due to the patent application.“In the cabin, during climb and takeoff, the difference is distinctive,” he said.
Improvements to the G3000 flight deck include faster display processors, performance planning for all phases of flight and takeoff/landing distance computation for runway length, V-speeds, climb/approach gradient, and more.
The autopilot now offers stability and protection with roll and angle-of-attack functions and coupled go-arounds with underspeed protection.
Buyers have new interior options such as a Bongiovi audio system with speaker-less transducer-based immersive audio, which weighs less than the preview four-speaker sound system. The 24 transducers are calibrated to provide a 3D immersive audio experience, and this signal processing technique also delivers a surround-sound experience when wearing headphones.
The lavatory seat now is available for takeoff and landing with its own seatbelt, preserving the seven-seat capacity when the galley is installed. The optional galley is fitted with a coffee maker, and the galley replaces the side-facing seat opposite the cabin entry door.
Thicker carpets are part of the Elite interior, and buyers can now opt for two-toned executive leather seats.
On the outside, “premier signature” paint options are available in colors that deliver greater depth using a new three-layer paint process. The colors are Ice Blue, Ruby Red, and Monarch Orange.
First deliveries of the Elite will take place this fall.