Automotive manufacturers have a long history of dabbling in aviation, and vice versa. The Ford Trimotor quickly jumps to mind; however, it is a new business jet entry to the market that is making headlines. The HondaJet, a unique design in the aviation world, has recently entered production. The aircraft and the engines that power it are forecast to do well in the light business jet market.
Honda’s light business jet is unique insofar that its engines, developed by Honda and General Electric, are mounted in pylons above the wings. This engine arrangement has been used before on a few aircraft and is a distinct characteristic. The mounting of the engines in this manner frees up space in the cabin for passengers and luggage, reduces noise, and helps with fuel efficiency.[i] The engines used on the HondaJet are interesting in their own right.
A joint effort by Honda and GE to produce a turbofan engine for the HondaJet resulted in the HF120. Two of these powerplants provide thrust for the aircraft, at 2,095 pounds each. The design has a thrust-to-weight ratio of 4.5, Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC), and a 5,000-hour time between overhauls.[ii] The engine’s FAA certification came in December 2013 and deliveries of the HondaJet began in December 2015.
Production of the engine is closely related to HondaJet production, but not entirely. Sierra Industries chose the HF120 turbine for the Sapphire upgrade of the CitationJet, and therefore some extra units are forecast for production in addition to those destined for the HondaJet. Production is forecast to ramp up from the projected 64 units in 2016 to an average of 91 units annually over the next nine years.
Although the HondaJet is a unique specimen, it does face competition from other light business aircraft. The Embraer Phenom 100E and the Cessna M2 and Mustang are strong competitors in the market. Despite its rivals, the new Honda light business jet should perform well.
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[i] Honda Aircraft Company. “HondaJet Innovations.” HondaJet.com
http://www.hondajet.com/hondajet/innovations (accessed August 22, 2016)
[ii] GE Honda Aero Engines. “GE Honda HF120 Datasheet” Gehonda.com
http://gehonda.com/_/pdf/GE_Honda_Hf120_datasheet.pdf (accessed August 22, 2016)