The news last week that Honda Aircraft Company had earned FAA certification for its HondaJet is welcome, but apart from the fact that a new jet has earned certification, what does it mean exactly? A lot. Here’s why.
For starters, the HondaJet is a light jet. Some might call it an “entry-level” jet, but the fact is that this entry-level jet boasts very substantial performance, a cruise speed of 420 knots and a range of 1,180 nm with reserves. The speed figure is particularly impressive, giving the HondaJet a 15-30 knot advantage over its direct competitors.
It’s a somewhat crowded market niche, with some excellent aircraft offering strong competition to the HondaJet. The Embraer Phenom 100 boasts excellent all around performance, comparably great quality of life features and an airline level of product support. The Cessna Citation M2 is a faster, longer legged version of the time tested CitationJet. A 400-plus-knot performer with the latest avionics package and a gorgeous cabin to boot, the M2 has legendary Cessna aftermarket support to brag about.
Buyers can expect to spend north of $4 million for any of the three.
It’s a trio of light jets that underscores the kind of impressive work that is being done worldwide at the light side of the turbofan market. Garmin panels are in one of the models, as well, which points out just how strong a move into that segment of the world the Olathe, Kansas-based avionics maker has made and continues to make.
And a good thing that, according to Honeywell in its latest turbine market forecast, the future looks sunny again for light jets, after a period of uncertainty during the downturn of 2008.
In terms of design, the HondaJet’s biggest differentiator is the over-the-wing engine configuration. Honda Aircraft claims the design gives the jet certain advantages, including a reduction in noise, and there’s truth to those claims.
In the end buyers will be looking at price, performance, support, comfort and flying characteristics. I’ve flown the Phenom 100 and Citation M2. They’re great flying airplanes, and I’ve reported as such, with outstanding single-pilot-centric design and docile handling.
Will the HondaJet be a match for those kinds of flying manners? I’m looking forward to flying it early in the New Year and letting you know.
Right now Honda is busy cranking out airplanes to fill an order book that seemed to keep growing as certification loomed. Now that Honda has earned type and production approval for its jet, it’s time to start delivering airplanes, lots of them, and continuing to build its case for why it’s the right light jet for the owner pilot on the move.