Honda HA-420 HondaJet

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HA-420 HondaJet
HondaJet Ryabtsev.jpg
Role light Business jet
National origin Japan
United States
Manufacturer Honda Aircraft Company[1]
First flight December 3, 2003
Status In production, in service
Produced December 2015–present
Number built 150 (as of Mar 2020)[2]
Program cost $1[1] to 1.5-$2 billion (estimated)[3]
Unit cost
US$5.28 million (Elite, 2019)[4]

The Honda HA-420 HondaJet is a light business jet produced by the Honda Aircraft Company of Greensboro, North Carolina, United States. Original concepts of the aircraft started in 1997 and were completed in 1999. It took its maiden flight on December 3, 2003, received its FAA type certificate in December 2015 and was first delivered that same month. By March 2020, 150 jets had been delivered.

The seven to eight-seat aircraft has a composite fuselage and an aluminum wing, and is powered by two GE Honda HF120 turbofans unusually mounted on pylons above the wing. It can reach a 420 kn (780 km/h) speed, and has a 1,400 nmi (2,600 km) range. The HondaJet has received several aeronautic design and innovation accolades.


Honda began to study small sized business jets in the late 1980s, using engines from other manufacturers. The Honda MH01 turboprop used an all-composite construction,[5] and the Honda MH02 was fabricated and assembled at Mississippi State University's Raspet Flight Research Laboratory in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The MH02 was a prototype using carbon fiber/epoxy composite materials and was the first all-composite light business jet to fly.[6] Flight testing on the MH02 continued through 1996, after which the aircraft was shipped to Japan.[7]

Designer and company founder Michimasa Fujino began sketching the HondaJet in 1997, and the concept was solidified in 1999. According to Fujino, design of the HondaJet nose was inspired by Salvatore Ferragamo shoes.[8] Testing in the Boeing windtunnel indicated a valid concept in 1999.[5][9]

In October 2000, Honda R&D Americas established a research facility at the Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, North Carolina[10][11] On December 3, 2003, a proof-of-concept HondaJet conducted its first successful test flight at the Greensboro facility.[12] At this point, Honda executives remained unsure about whether or not to commercialize the HondaJet program.[13][14][15] To better understand the commercial potential of the HondaJet, project leader Michimasa Fujino publicly displayed the HondaJet for the first time on July 28, 2005, at the annual EAA AirVenture Oshkosh airshow.[16][17] The debut attracted strong interest, and convinced Honda executives to commercialize the HondaJet, which Honda publicly announced at the following year's Airventure.[18][19]

After the commercialization of the HondaJet HA-420 was announced by Honda in 2006, the first delivery was planned for 2010.[20] The first FAA-conforming (built to Federal Aviation Administration rules) HondaJet achieved its first flight on 20 December 2010.[21] The first flight of the first production HondaJet occurred on June 27, 2014,[22][23] and it was displayed at that year's AirVenture on 28 July.[24][25] Four HondaJets had test-flown 2,500 hours as of 2015.[26]

The HondaJet was awarded a "Provisional Type Certificate“ from the FAA in March 2015. This enabled continued production[27][28] and demonstration flights, including a HondaJet tour in Japan and Europe in 2015.[29] The aircraft received its FAA type certificate in December 2015[30][31] and received its European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) type certificate in May 2016.[32] The HondaJet was also certified in Japan in December 2018.[33]

Estimates for Honda investment into the Hondajet program range from one[1] to 1.5-2 billion dollars.[3]


HondaJet formation

The production aircraft are built at Piedmont Triad International Airport. Construction of the factory began in 2007 and was completed in late 2011.[34][35] In early 2015, there were 12 aircraft in final assembly and five more in earlier stages of production.[28] Twenty aircraft were in production by May 2015. Honda estimated it would produce 40 aircraft in the first full year and up to 60 each year after that.[29] The engine factory achieved certification in March 2015.[28][36]

Honda delivered the first customer aircraft on December 23, 2015, at its world headquarters in Greensboro, North Carolina.[37] The first delivery of a HondaJet to a European aircraft dealer took place in April 2016.[38] About 20% of the approximately 100 aircraft on order are destined for European customers as reported in April 2016.[39]

Honda plans to ramp up production to 80 units per year after March 2019. Sixteen aircraft were delivered in the first three quarters of 2016, reaching a 36 per year production rate.[40] In 2017, 15 were produced in the first quarter, and the annual target is between 55 and 60 aircraft.[41] After deliveries began in late 2015, the HondaJet soon became one of the top-selling aircraft in its class.[42][43]

In July 2019, Honda Aircraft began construction of a new $15.5 million, 82,000-square-foot wing assembly center on its campus.[44] The new facility, which is meant to enhance production efficiently by allowing wings to be assembled concurrently, is expected to open in July 2020.

HondaJet Elite[edit]

In May 2018, the $5.2 million (as of 2018) HondaJet Elite was revealed,[45] with an expanded performance envelope, improved interior and updated flight deck. The type certificate was amended by the FAA on 2 May 2018, and soon followed by EASA.[46] Honda began deliveries on August 7, 2018.[47]

Elite's elevator authority is increased to reduce its takeoff roll by 500 to 3,491 ft (152 to 1,064 m),[48] reducing the Cessna Citation M2's take-off advantage.[45] Range is increased by 214 to 1,437 nmi (396 to 2,661 km) with an auxiliary fuel tank and aerodynamic improvements. The horizontal stabilizer tips are extended slightly and hinge gaps tightened up, allowing energized flow over the stabilizer without its vortex generators.[46] A new engine inlet reduces vibration and cabin noise, the lavatory receives a belted seat allowing a fifth passenger even with a galley; avionics improvements with Garmin G3000-based flight deck include takeoff and landing (TOLD) calculations, angle of attack protection, and Flight Stream 510 functionality.[45][49]

Elite's payload is increased by over 200 lb (91 kg): 107 pounds (49 kg) from the empty weight reduction and 100 pounds (45 kg) from an increased maximum takeoff weight while 16 US gal (61 l) more of fuel tank fill unused space in the aft fuselage.[50]

At a weight of 9,500 lb (4,300 kg) and ISA+3°C, the HondaJet Elite cruises at Mach 0.676 or 390 kn (720 km/h) TAS, while burning 570 lb (260 kg) per hour, better than book predictions.[51]

In October 2019, Honda Aircraft Company presented first medevac-configured HondaJet Elite for air ambulance use.[52] In the same month, a HondaJet Elite flew to the 2019 National Business Aviation Association meeting using sustainable aviation fuel.[52] Also in 2019, HondaJet received type certification in China, Canada, and Turkey.[53]

In 2020, EASA certified HondaJet Elite for steep approaches (descent angles of up to 5.5°), and for up to 8 occupants.[54]

HondaJet APMG[edit]

To retrofit some of the upgrades of HondaJet Elite to pre-Elite HondaJets, an APMG (Advanced Performance Modification Group) upgrade is available for $250,000. This includes 100 to 120 nmi range increase,[55] and a 45 kg (99 lb) MTOW increase and take-off run reduction by 135 m (443 ft) to 1,064 m (3,491 ft); this is achieved by a few inches span extension of the horizontal tailplane, and removal of wing fences and vortex generators.[56] Avionics upgrades include takeoff and landing (TOLD) calculations, Flight Stream 510 wireless gateway compatibility, an enhanced electronic checklist, angle-of-attack indicator on the PFD, and visual approaches.[55] On the other hand, HondaJet Elite features such as an additional fuel tank or engine inlet acoustic improvement, are not available with APMG.[57]


Rear view of the aircraft, highlighting the overwing podded engine configuration

The HondaJet is a low-wing monoplane that uses a composite fuselage and an aluminum wing.[58][59] Although it is slightly over the maximum takeoff weight of 10,000 pounds (4,540 kg), the HondaJet is still considered to be a part of the very light jet category.[importance?]

It uses two engines mounted on pylons above the wing, a configured called Over-The-Wing Engine Mount, or OTWEM, by Honda Aircraft.[60] This configuration maximizes cabin space by removing the structure required to mount engines on the rear of the fuselage.[5] A similar over-wing engine configuration was used in the 1970s on the VFW-Fokker 614, but had limited the aircraft’s speed due to interference between the engine and the wing.[61][62] This, along with the overall commercial failure of the VFW-Fokker 614, made the over-wing configuration unpopular with aircraft designers.[62][63][64] To avoid these issues, the HondaJet’s designer used computer analysis and wind tunnel testing to find the optimal position for engine placement on top of the wings, which he determined was at 75 percent of the wing chord.[61] The HondaJet’s engines are positioned in such a way that the airflow over the wing is superimposed with the airflow around the engine to minimize wave drag at high speed.[65] The HondaJet designer calls this “favorable interference.”[63] This configuration not only eliminated the problems associated with earlier over-wing engine mounts, but actually reduced wave drag compared to a conventional rear-fuselage mounted configuration.[63] OTWEM configuration is often named the most unusual feature of the HondaJet.[66]

The nose and wing are designed for laminar flow, and the main fuselage has a constant profile, making an eventual stretch easier. The combination of engine placement, wing and fuselage was achieved using computer simulations and wind tunnels.[9][67] HondaJet has a retractable tricycle landing gear with both main and nose landing gear single-wheeled.[9]

The aircraft is powered by two GE Honda HF120 turbofans, developed with GE Aviation under the GE-Honda partnership. Honda began developing its own small turbofan engine, the HF118, in 1999, leading to the HF120. The HF120 was test-flown on a Cessna Citation CJ1.[68] The engine features a single fan, a two-stage compressor and a two-stage turbine. The GE Honda HF120 received FAA type certification on 13 December 2013,[69] and production certification in 2015.[28][36]

Honda claims that the combination of lightweight materials, aerodynamics and efficient engines gave the HondaJet up to 20% better fuel efficiency than similar aircraft.[70][71] In 2019, Business & Commercial Aviation reported that for a 1,000 nmi (1,852 km) 4-passenger mission HondaJet Elite uses 1,872 lb (849 kg) of fuel, compared to 1,919 lb (870 kg) (3% more) for the Phenom 100EV, and to 2,018 lb (915 kg) (8% more) for the Citation M2; for a 300 nmi (556 km) mission the numbers become 679 lb (308 kg), 753 lb (342 kg) (11% more), and 804 lb (365 kg) (18% more) respectively.[4]

Interior of the HondaJet

The interior dimensions are 17.80 ft (5.43 m) long, 5.00 ft (1.52 m) wide, and 4.83 ft (1.47 m) high, while the cabin is 12.1 ft (3.7 m) long besides the enclosed lavatory.[72] Total interior volume is 324 cu ft (9.2 m3), and luggage capacity is 66 cu ft (1.9 m3).[61] The aircraft is equipped with a touchscreen 3-display Garmin G3000[73] glass cockpit system.

Garmin 3000 Avionics for the HA-420


Michimasa Fujino received the Business & Commercial Aviation - Vision Award (2008),[74] the AIAA - Aircraft Design Award (2012),[75] the SAE International - Clarence L. (Kelly) Johnson Aerospace Vehicle Design and Development Award (2013),[76] the 2014 ICAS award for Innovation in Aeronautics for leading the design,[77][78] as well as a Living Legends of Aviation Industry Leader of the Year award.[79][80]

The HondaJet was included in the Robb Report - Best of the Best : Business Jets (2007),[81] in the Aviation Week & Space Technology - Techs To Watch (2010),[82] in the 2014 'Best of What's New' by Popular Science magazine,[83] and the Flying Magazine - Flying Innovation Award in 2017.[84] The Honda Aircraft Company received the AIAA Foundation Award for Excellence in 2018.[85]

Operational history[edit]

HondaJet has an ICAO designator HDJT.[86] As of March 2020, the 150 HondaJet aircraft in service have logged 40,000 hours with a 99.7% dispatch reliability.[87][2]

The HA-420 was involved in one hull-loss accident with no injuries.[88]

Specifications (Elite)[edit]

Data from HondaJet Elite Brochure[49]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1-2
  • Capacity: 7 occupants (8 in Europe[54]), crew included
  • Length: 42 ft 7 in (12.99 m)
  • Wingspan: 39 ft 9 in (12.12 m)
  • Height: 14 ft 11 in (4.54 m)
  • Max takeoff weight: 10,701 lb (4,854 kg) [89]
  • Pressurization: 8.8 psi (0.61 bar)[4]
  • Cabin height: 4.83 ft (1.47 m)[72]
  • Cabin width: 5.00 ft (1.52 m)[72]
  • Powerplant: 2 × GE Honda HF120 turbofan, 2,050 lbf (9.1 kN) thrust each


  • Cruise speed: 422 kn (486 mph, 782 km/h) FL300
  • Range: 1,437 nmi (1,653 mi, 2,661 km) NBAA fuel reserve IFR Range with 4 occupants
  • Service ceiling: 43,000 ft (13,000 m)
  • Rate of climb: 4,100 ft/min (21 m/s)
  • Fuel burn at high-speed cruise: 999 lb/h (453 kg/h) at 419 kn TAS at FL330[4]
  • Fuel burn at long-range cruise: 543 lb/h (246 kg/h) at 360 kn TAS at FL430[4]


Year 2015[90] 2016[91] 2017[92] 2018[93] 2019[94] All
Deliveries 2 23 43 37 36 141
Billings (M$) (est.) 9 103.5 209.2 183.1 179.5 684.3
Average (M$) (est.) 4.5 4.5 4.87 4.95 4.99 4.85

Deliveries dropped in 2018 because of a combination of the transition to the HondaJet Elite, timing of fleet deliveries and customers' schedules.[95]

See also[edit]

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists


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External links[edit]