HondaJet Elite – Doubling Down on a Winning Hand
You have to have more than a winning hand—you have to know your opponents and be prepared to stay in the game. Key players at the table are the Cessna Citation M2 (Model 525) and the Embraer Phenom 100. Others at the table include the SyberJet SJ30, Pilatus PC-24, and Embraer big brother, the Phenom 300. HondaJet is a relative newcomer, but already is showing signs of a winning hand, and has just upped the ante With the new HondaJet Elite.
HondaJet was established in 2006 as a wholly owned subsidiary of American Honda Motors, with headquarters and manufacturing facilities in North Carolina. Its first HondaJet was delivered in December 2015, and through the end of 2017, at least 43 aircraft have been delivered—a strong showing for any new aircraft.
Honda Aircraft Company President Michimasa Fujino presented the follow-on HondaJet Elite at the 2018 European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) saying that the design improvements are “The result of innovation, design, and engineering” that has produced a follow-on to the well-received HondaJet, including “new aircraft features and performance and comfort enhancements that, once again, set a new standard in aviation.”
The HondaJet Elite boasts noteworthy improvements in passenger comfort and amenities and performance. The new quieter cabin can accommodate up to five passengers with the added belted lavatory seat. Passenger amenities include an optional full-service galley (with a coffee maker), Wifi, and an innovative speaker-less cabin sound system. Individual transducers behind the cabin walls convert the walls into a fully immersive sound system.
The HondaJet Elite retains the two over-wing pylon-mounted GE Honda Aero HF120 turbofan engines each producing 2050 lb of thrust. This mounting, combined with new Noise Attenuating Engine Inlets on the Elite, further reduces cabin vibration and noise. It also allows the main fuselage to have a constant profile to maximize cabin and baggage space (and would make it easier to stretch the fuselage).
A 16-gallon fuel tank has been added aft in unused fuselage space. This increases the aircraft’s NBA IFR range by 17% to 1,437 nm, an increase of 231 nm.
Additionally, the elevator authority was increased to reduce the takeoff roll by 400 ft to more closely match that of the Cessna Citation M2.
The composite structure of the aircraft also retains its Natural Laminar Flow over the main wing airfoil and the nose of the aircraft. This drag-reducing design accounts for both its higher cruise speed (422 KTAS) and superior fuel efficiency at its maximum cruise altitude (FL 430).
The cockpit, featuring highly customized Garmin G3000 next-generation all-glass avionics that includes three 14-inch high-resolution flat panel displays and touch-screens that reduce workload and improve visibility and presentation of all navigation, performance, and systems data. The enhanced navigation, flight planning, and control functions support both single-pilot and two-pilot operations.
Production and the Future
HondaJet headquarters and production facilities are in Greensboro, North Carolina. Production deliveries of the HondaJet began in 2015. Based on media reports, there are approximately 100 aircraft on order with 20 destined for European customers.
Sixteen aircraft were delivered in the first three quarters of 2016. In 2017, 15 were produced in the first quarter, and the current annual target is between 55 and 60 aircraft. Honda plans to ramp up production to 80 units per year eventually. HondaJet delivered 43 aircraft in 2017, the most of any business aircraft in its category. French air taxi service, Wijet recently ordered 16 HondaJets.
HondaJet Elite by the Numbers
The first HondaJet Elite was on display at the EBACE show in Geneva, Switzerland. The list price of $5.25 million is $300,00 more than the HondaJet book price. According to HondaJet, the new Elite will replace the original HondaJet and become their standard for aircraft.
The HondaJet Elite will cruise at 422 KTAS at FL 430, with a range of 1437 nm. A climb rate of 4,100 fpm is claimed. Maximum seating is described as one pilot and six passengers or two pilots and five passengers. The cabin altitude at FL 430 is 8,000 ft.
How HondaJet Sees the Markets
In a recent interview, President Fujino, when asked about further development, replied that they want to focus on delivering on orders. He did indicate they may move up their timetable for other markets, especially China. Fujino foresees a demand in the small-jet market of up to 300 units per year. He also sees a move by medium-sized business jet operators to down-size to get more travel for their fuel dollars.
Typical mid-sized business jets have an hourly operational cost of about $1,800 per hour, while the HondaJet has an operational cost of $1,000 to $1,200 per hour. There is also keen interest from on-demand charter services which typically fly no more than four people per trip.
HondaJet has earned its seat the table.