We Fly: Honda Aircraft HA-420

July 15, 2016 3:38 pm
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When Honda Aircraft Company announced it had received FAA type certification for the HA-420 HondaJet on December 9, the company’s president and CEO, Michimasa Fujino, described the document as “the crystal of sweat and tears.” The sign-off was the culmination of decades of hard work. Fujino became involved in Honda’s aircraft program in 1986. The first drawings of what eventually became the HondaJet were sketched in the early 1990s. The Honda Aircraft branch was established in August 2006, and the first conforming HondaJet flew in December 2010. It is no wonder Fujino refers to the HA-420 as his third daughter.

Beyond the vision of producing aircraft under the world-renowned Honda brand, Fujino chose an over-the-wing mount for the jet engines, claiming the new 
configuration would provide a quieter cabin and better performance. With the ink now dry on the FAA certification papers, we finally had an opportunity to put this new light twinjet to the test. Could the airplane really do all that Fujino originally envisioned?

The HA-420 HondaJet is powered by two GE Honda Aero Engines HF120 turbofan engines, each producing 1,997 pounds of thrust. The engine pylons atop the wings are constructed of metal. The natural laminar flow wings terminate in sizable winglets. The HondaJet’s fuselage is made of carbon fiber, and its flight deck is built around Garmin’s touchscreen-capable G3000 suite.

Since the HA-420 is Honda Aircraft’s first aircraft offering, the company should be considered a startup. However, walking around the facilities at the Piedmont Triad International Airport (GSO) in Greensboro, North Carolina, it is evident that this is not your typical newcomer. With the backing of the Honda empire, the Honda Aircraft facilities are first-rate, with high-tech security at each entrance, spacious modern offices, and hangars so clean, you could eat off the floors. As with the production of the parent company’s automobiles, sophisticated automation is involved in the production process, which should translate to consistency across the product line.