The highly anticipated very light HondaJet has been in the development stages for 26 years, continuously evolving to offer superior quality and to exceed FAA safety standards.26 years may be a long time for no actual aircraft deliveries compared to other manufacturing start-ups, but Honda Aircraft Company has always enjoyed one strong advantage- the financial support and engineering expertise of the one of the world's largest automobile companies. Let’s take a look at the evolution of the HondaJet.
The earliest stages of Honda’s first business aircraft began in 1986 when a young Honda engineer named Michimasa Fujino joined Honda’s R&D division and began studying small sized business jets using engines from other manufacturers. He gained invaluable experience, sanding molds and building composite parts by hand on his first formation, the MH-01- A Beechcraft Bonanza accessorized with a composite wing and tail. This single-engine, turbo-prop plane lead to Fujino’s design of the MH-02, an all composite business jet completed in the early 1990’s. At this time, Fujino reports his work represented only “fundamental research programs…with no intention for commercialization.”
In 1997, with financial backing from Honda Motor Co., Fujino drafted a first sketch of the HondaJet and soon began the research and design to develop this idea into a reality. For the next 6 years Fujino oversaw the manufacturing of the first HondaJet meanwhile studying the physics of the design and implementing to offer superior performance, efficiency and quality. Fujino developed many aircraft innovations still used today: His over the wing engine-mount-configuration improved the aerodynamic performance of the jet at high speeds and allowed for more cabin space; the natural-laminar flow (NLF) of the wing and nose were developed through extensive analyses of wind-tunnel testing and helped achieve the highest possible wing efficiency in cruise flight; And, his all-composite fuselage structure was developed to reduce the weight and manufacturing costs of the HondaJet.
On December 16, 2003 Honda Motor Co., Ltd. announced that the HondaJet, equipped with Honda HF118 engines successfully completed initial flight tests at Piedmont Triad Airport in North Carolina, a significant milestone for the company and the industry. Following three more years of safety and quality improvements to the HondaJet, on July 25, 2006, Honda announced plans to enter the HondaJet into the growing very light jet market. Michimasa Fujino became the President & CEO of the new subsidiary, Honda Aircraft Company, and soon began the process of accepting HondaJet sales orders, pending FAA certification in 3-4 years.