In some circles, Honda (NYSE:HMC) is renowned for its reliable generators — small engines designed specifically to produce electricity. In other circles, Honda is revered for its motorcycles, both casual and racing; and while boat aficionados swear by Honda’s excellent marine engines, the company is most notably known for its reliable and enduring automobiles. But Honda isn’t content, and it’s hoping to apply the same degree of engineering expertise to private jets.
Honda began working on the HondaJet a few years ago. Hailed as “the world’s most advanced light jet,” the HondaJet brings a very Honda-like approach to the world of private aerospace. It comfortably seats four (or five) passengers in a roomy cabin (it’s a pretty small plane) and boasts stellar fuel efficiency while emitting less nitrogen dioxide than other light business jets. It’s priced at about $4.5 million per unit, which is still quite a lot of money, but in its field, it’s cost competitive and actually on the affordable side — like many of Honda’s products.
The big news to come from Honda’s infantile aerospace program is that the first production HondaJet is nearing completion at Honda’s facility in Greensboro, North Carolina. It’s rated for 420 KTAS (knots true airspeed) at 30,000 feet, or about 480 miles per hour. It has a flying range — when carrying four occupants — of 1,180 nautical miles, about 1,300 ground miles. That’s not a tremendous distance by modern aviation standards, but remember that this is really a puddle-jumper meant for quick business trips, not transoceanic voyages.
The fact that Honda one day decided to jump knee-deep into the private jet industry is in itself impressive. As Torque News reports, the amount of investment in the program is colossal well before the first plane rolls off the line. A 600,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art development and production facility that houses 1,000 employees had to be constructed to produce the six test mules that were built, and 2,000 test cycle hours were expended on the G.E.- Honda engines alone. Currently, just nine jets are moving down the assembly line in various stages of assembly, the publication said.