On April 20, the Misawa Aviation & Science Museum in Aomori Prefecture in Japan reopens with a unique new display—the original proof-of-concept (POC) prototype HondaJet. Aomori is the location of Honda Aircraft president and CEO Michimasa Fujino’s hometown.
While undergoing remodeling two years ago, the museum reached out to Honda Aircraft to ask for help with a plan to design a hangar dedicated to the HondaJet. The possibility of educating visitors about Honda Aircraft and the HondaJet was a “great opportunity,” according to the company. “As a result, we've decided to donate the POC and have it permanently displayed in the museum.”
The POC first flew on Dec. 3, 2003, powered by Honda-designed and -built HF118 engines (with Honda’s own Fadec) mounted in an unusual configuration—over the wings instead of on the aft fuselage. The over-the-wing-engine-mount (OTWEM) design wasn’t intended to make the HondaJet look unusual, which it certainly did, but took advantage of aerodynamic optimization that delays drag rise at high speeds. Although this was confirmed in a Boeing wind tunnel, the POC flight testing proved that the concept worked. Another key benefit of OTWEM is the larger space available in the cabin by moving engine structure and systems out of the fuselage.
The highly secret HondaJet, built in a hangar at Greensboro Airport in North Carolina, became wildly popular during the POC’s debut in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Fujino and the Honda Aircraft team arrived at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh on July 28, 2005, and early the following year Honda Aircraft announced that the HondaJet would become a commercial program.
Teaming with GE to create a joint venture for the design and manufacture of a more powerful version of the engine, the HF120-powered HondaJet received FAA certification on Dec. 9, 2015. Honda Aircraft also worked with Garmin to develop the G3000 avionics suite. Now more than 170 HondaJets are flying and with 31 delivered during 2020, the HondaJet “was the most delivered aircraft in its class for the fourth consecutive year,” the company said.
The POC was retired in 2013, but now it has a new home at the Misawa Aviation & Science Museum. Inside the HondaJet hangar, the POC is surrounded by three walls displaying historical documents, components, and explanations in Japanese and English. Components include a wing skin, avionics, composite fuselage, and the pilot suit and parachute worn during the flight testing.
"It is our great pleasure to have the HondaJet proof-of-concept on permanent display at Misawa Aviation & Science Museum in Japan,” Fujino said. “With this aircraft we proved the innovative OTWEM configuration and other advanced technology unique to the HondaJet, and achieved the best performance, fuel efficiency, and cabin comfort in our class. We hope to have many people visit the museum and view the HondaJet in person and wish that the story of the HondaJet can inspire the next generation of aircraft designers.”