Honda Aircraft lifted the curtain and unveiled a “concept” of its next aircraft—a larger light jet with a transcontinental range of 2,625 nm and with a midsize-jet cabin that seats up to 11 occupants—on Tuesday morning at NBAA-BACE in Las Vegas. A mockup of the fuselage with stub wings and engines on pylons is on display this week at Honda Aircraft’s BACE exhibit (Booth 3167).
The configuration of the HondaJet 2600 is similar to the original HondaJet HA-420, with Honda Aircraft’s patented over-the-wing-engine-mount design, in which the two engines are attached to pylons mounted on top of the wings. This allows for additional space in the cabin because many engine systems do not need to be installed inside the aft fuselage, while also lowering vibration and noise for passengers.
According to Honda Aircraft president and CEO Michimasa Fujino, the HondaJet 2600 is being developed in a similar fashion as the first HondaJet. That means presenting it first as a concept for market research and then later making a decision on commercialization based on market interest.
“There is a lot of activity in R&D with the interior mockup and progress of our design,” he said. “What we are proposing by the HondaJet 2600 is very unique comparing to other business jets.”
The HondaJet 2600 will have a maximum cruise speed of 450 knots and a maximum altitude of FL470. At that altitude, cabin altitude is 6,363 feet thanks to the composite fuselage, similar to the HA-420 fuselage construction. At FL450, cabin altitude is 6,124 feet. For the HondaJet 2600, the fuselage will be more oval-shaped, increasing headroom and shoulder space at each seat. The cabin interior measures 62.5 inches high from the dropped aisle to the ceiling, and 61 inches wide, 4.5 inches taller and one inch wider than the HA-420’s cabin.
The cabin features a modular design, with options for seats such as two double clubs or a single club seating area and a divan across from two seats. There is a full-height galley, an enclosed lavatory larger than the HA-420’s, and four round skylights (two in the main cabin and two in the lavatory). Distance from seatback to seatback is seven feet. Honda Aircraft engineers have designed a special mattress that lies across two seats for a lie-flat bed, eliminating the need to fold seats down to create a sleep surface.
The genesis of the HondaJet 2600 concept is demand for rapid cross-country travel with more passengers and payload, according to Fujino. The goal is transcontinental capability, and the 2600 will be able to fly to its maximum range with four passengers.
Fitting into the light jet category with a maximum takeoff weight in the 17,500-pound range, the HondaJet 2600 “is very unique compared to other business jets,” Fujino said. “While current jets all can run on sustainable aviation fuel (SAF)," he added, “none were mainly designed around the environment or focusing on fuel efficiency. The [HondaJet 2600] is designed around environmental considerations and a focus is on fuel efficiency.
“Fuel efficiency is 20 percent better than light jets, and if you compare the range, it is in the midsize jet range, but fuel efficiency is 40 percent better than a midsize jet. Generally speaking, many business jet users may not necessarily always fly long-range, but if you want to go transcontinental, you have to go to a midsize jet. This is a new concept of business jet, with fuel efficiency, high payload capability, and transcontinental range.”
Like the HA-420, the HondaJet 2600’s over-the-wing-engine-mount design has been tested in a high-speed wind tunnel. According to Fujino, the testing showed that the 2600’s natural laminar flow and engine placement delays the drag rise that accompanies high-speed flight, which is a key reason for HondaJet efficiency.
Honda Aircraft is testing the market to assess demand for a jet like the HondaJet 2600, and that is in part why it unveiled the concept airplane at NBAA-BACE 2021. No decision on launching the jet program has been made.
If the 2600 does get the go-ahead, it will be certified in the Part 23 commuter category and will be a single-pilot airplane.
Fujino said he can’t disclose any information about engine selection for now. But GE Honda Aero Engines, which manufactures the HA-420’s 2,050-pound thrust HF120 engine, has long maintained that the engine design could be part of a family with larger siblings. The Citation CJ4, roughly in the same class as the HondaJet 2600 although with a smaller cabin and about 500 nm less range, is powered by two 3,621-pound Williams FJ44-4As.
Avionics will be similar to the Garmin G3000 flight deck in the HA-420, with the addition of autothrottles and a runway overrun awareness and alerting system. Fujino said the design will include “more electrification,” with a brake-by-wire system, auto brakes, electric landing gear, flaps, and spoiler actuation, and Honda Aircraft’s Advanced Steering Augmentation System, which provides directional assistance to the nosewheel steering to increase stability after landing.
The original HondaJet “made a mark on this industry,” Fujino said after unveiling the HondaJet 2600 mockup at BACE. “We became aware of a need for a new kind of aircraft based upon a new market segment. This concept will unlock an entirely new frontier of possibilities, new destinations, and an opportunity to reduce aviation’s carbon footprint.”