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Latest HondaJet test aircraft lifts-off

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December 22, 2011

Honda's latest FAA-conforming test aircraft known as F2 has now begun flight testing

Honda's latest FAA-conforming test aircraft known as F2 has now begun flight testing

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Honda's first ever commercial aircraft, appropriately named the HondaJet, follows in the footsteps of the company's ground-breaking CB750 motorcycle and S600 sports car by aiming to provide superior performance and value - this time in the light business jet market. Continuing an intensive flight test regime to meet U.S. Federal Aviation Authority approval that began one year ago, the latest FAA-conforming test aircraft known as F2 has now begun flight testing out of the company's headquarters at Greensboro's Piedmont Triad International Airport.

F2 made its maiden flight on November 18, 2011, performing a variety of checks during takeoff, climb and cruising phases. These included landing gear operation, flap operations, aircraft handling and air data system checks, followed by an Instrument Landing System (ILS) approach and landing.

"The first flight of a flight test aircraft is an important milestone for an aircraft certification program, and the fact that we achieved F2's first flight shortly after receiving its engines illustrates our team's preparation and readiness," said Michimasa Fujino, President and CEO of Honda Aircraft Company, and the man responsible for the distinctive over-the-wing (rather than under-wing or fuselage-mounted) engine-mount design which goes back to 1997.

Two additional flight test aircraft, the F3 and F4, are expected to be ready in 2012. The company also plans to begin further structural testing with additional structural test aircraft in 2012, so it looks like customer deliveries of the US$3.65 million aircraft - which were originally slated for 2010 - are still some way off.

The first FAA-conforming HondaJet, the F1, which flew for the first time on December 20, 2010, has already achieved key benchmarks that meet or exceed the aircraft's designed performance goals. In March, Honda Aircraft reported the aircraft achieved a maximum speed of 425 KTAS (True Air Speed in Knots - 489 mph) at 30,000 feet, surpassing the company's performance commitment of 420 KTAS. The aircraft has since achieved a climb rate of 4,000 feet per minute, beating its target of 3,990 FPM, and a maximum operating altitude of 43,000 feet.

HondaJet's high-tech cockpit

After nearly fifteen years in development, HondaJet is still claimed to be the most advanced light business jet aircraft, offering advantages in performance, comfort, quality and efficiency. Technological innovations, such as the unique over-the-wing engine-mount configuration for the two GE Honda HF120 turbofan jet engines are claimed to improve performance and fuel efficiency by reducing aerodynamic drag. At the same time, this airframe design reduces noise inside the cabin and on the ground, as well as providing a roomier cabin with greater cargo space compared to a fuselage-mounted engine configuration. The flight deck is also leading edge with the Garmin G3000 next-generation all-glass avionics system, three 14-inch displays and dual touch-screen controllers.

Video of F2 first flight can be viewed at the HondaJet site.

About the Author
Martin Hone Martin spent 17 years as road and track tester for Australian Motorcycle News and has raced motorcycles for over 40 years, picking up an Australian Championship in 1993 in the Unlimited Class Historic. An aircraft builder and experienced recreational pilot, he currently operates a test flight and maintenance facility, owns a Ducati 1000 and a Buell 1200 … and writes for Gizmag.   All articles by Martin Hone
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16 Comments

Is not the Honda Jet already certified in Japan (& other countries)?

Pres
23rd December, 2011 @ 12:59 am PST

But it's just an ugly airplane. Doesn't matter how technically advanced it is. It's ugly....

DemonDuck
23rd December, 2011 @ 04:00 am PST

Unconventional...

Don't like it, that's too bad, you will get used to it.

I suppose you don't mind many of the bland modern cars now, but then the bubble cars appeared in the 1990's they were plain ugly... NO corners ugh...

MD
23rd December, 2011 @ 04:48 am PST

If it can compete with the Piaggio Avanti turbo-prop pusher (in terms of cost of operation), it will be successful.

Mirmillion
23rd December, 2011 @ 07:55 am PST

Interesting how the jets are on pylons above the wing and the canards are much taller proportionately to the wing. Odd looking or not, Honda doesn't build junk. I think it's more of a new beginning for them.

dsiple
23rd December, 2011 @ 08:57 am PST

The open-cockpit Del Sol version will be cool

Todd Dunning
23rd December, 2011 @ 10:15 am PST

The "distinctive engine-over-the-wing design" first flew in July of 1971, having been proposed in 1961. The aircraft , the VFW614 was described as ahead of its time, and with a capacity of 36 - 40 seats a candidate for regional airlines, which at that time did not really exist. For those look up VFW-614 on Wikipedia.

bas
23rd December, 2011 @ 11:22 am PST

Those are winglets not canards...

DemonDuck
23rd December, 2011 @ 11:30 am PST

Honda just designs it different for the sake of 'being different'. But all in all it looks ugly. I wouldn't want to fly in one of these. Form follows function. I bet it functions teribbly.

SpaceBagels
23rd December, 2011 @ 04:37 pm PST

oh demonduck and spacebagels I feel so sad for you two, I would explain to you that Honda makes great well thought out products like my Sons RSX type S . me thinks you would not understand the joy of shifting at 9500 rpm, this is from a URQ owner that loves the sound at 6750 rpm on the I5, Honda rocks!

Bill Bennett
23rd December, 2011 @ 08:04 pm PST

The first(non-conforming) Hondajet prototype flew in 2003, this means it's been in flight testing for 8 years. That's a lot of flight testing! - in comparison, the Eclipse 500 entered service 4 years after first flight, and they didn't have the backing of a major motor company. If Hondajet was a privateer operation it would have gone bankrupt by now!

And regarding the claim that the over-wing mounted engines are more efficient, this is not strictly true - if you read Honda's 'technical paper' on the aerodynamic justification for using the overwing configuration, you will see in their drag coefficient comparisons for different engine configurations that they use a 'contoured pylon' to bias the results to favour the rear overwing engine mount. This is because the aircraft configuration was decided not by the result of an aerodynamic trade study, but by the napkin sketch of Michmasa Fujino, CEO of Hondajet, Fujino was one of the authors of the technical paper and biased it accordingly so he could design the airplane the way he wanted to.

http://hondajet.honda.com/pdf/tech_papers/Journal_of_Aircraft_Vol40_No6_P1177_P1184_Wave_Drag_OTWEM.pdf

PeetEngineer
24th December, 2011 @ 11:37 pm PST

There is no reason to believe that hanging the engine under the wing is superior. that configuration was invented because the Messerschmidt engineers did not know whether they would receive jet engines with a radial flow compressor or the much slimmer axial flow compressor. The engineers wanted to have the engine center-line through the wing like the Gloster Meteor. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SapphireMeteorWA820.jpg

Slowburn
27th December, 2011 @ 09:21 am PST

@Pres - No it is not. Initial certification is in the US and other certifications will follow based on the US certification.

@SpaceBagels & PeetEngineer et. al. - indeed form does follow function here, but it depends on the design goals.

The over-the-wing design solves a critical problem for jets: FOD (Foreign Object Debris.) A jet engine on takeoff is literally sucking in air and anything else in it's path. If that something else includes rocks, paper, plastic, etc. it can be VERY bad for the engine. Biz-Jets often operate from smaller airports that don't necessarily have runways as clean (or as wide) as large international airports. The smaller engines used in biz-jets also have tighter tolerances so they are affected by smaller FOD than most commercial airliners.

If the engine is placed below the wing, the wing must be raised, and gear length must be increased to get the engine away from the ground. Raising the wing means the spar needs to go through or over the cabin. Longer gear needs to be stored somewhere and takes away from fuel capacity. Longer gear also needs to be stronger and is therefore heavier.

That's why most biz-jets have a low wing with engines attached to the fuselage in the rear. But this creates more cabin noise, puts the engines further from the center of gravity and creates unfortunate flow issues between the engine and fuselage as speeds approach the speed of sound. The latter two detract measurably from efficiency and the #1 seller for new jets is fuel economy. #2 is comfort.

Sure, a mid-wing with the engine center line through the wing would be aerodynamically more efficient, but who wants to crawl under the spar in a business suit to get to the rear seats? Though it might be fun to watch the flight attendants do it.

The Piaggio mentioned by Mirmillon solves these problems by using a canard (or, more accurately, a forward wing) and they claim to be working on a jet version though it has been delayed indefinitely. The jet most likely has problems with the forward wing creating unacceptable turbulence for the jet intakes in certain situations.

-VO

VO
27th December, 2011 @ 12:26 pm PST

I don't see where mounting the engine pods above the wing is better than mounting them to the rear of the fuselage. They seem to be in the same relative location. Without the engines to support, the wings could be lighter and still hold more fuel.

David G. Cole
27th December, 2011 @ 03:38 pm PST

DemonDuck & SpaceBagels

Honda used the unusual above wing engine placement to increase wing efficiency. The wing is a one piece structure placed below the fuselage thereby eliminating intrusion of the wing roots into the cabin. Taking the engines off the fuselage also increase cargo space due to the elimination of the considerable bracing of the fuselage where the engines are mounted. Because of this, cabin and cargo space is significantly larger than aircraft of the same size. The pylons allow a cleaner wing which reduces drag and the above wing engine placement reduces the possibility of damage to an engine through ingesting gravel on an unsealed strip. Like the Airbus 350 & Dreamliner the fuselage is constructed from lightweight composite materials.

Tests indicate that the use of lightweight materials, efficient aerodynamics and engines gives the HondaJet 35% greater fuel efficiency over similar sized aircraft. The operator of a small exec jet would regard that as a significant advantage.

It has attracted a lot of interest & positive comments among aviation experts up to this point.

Trebor
27th December, 2011 @ 04:55 pm PST

@David - It gets them further from the fuselage, so the air does not compress between the fuselage and engine causing it to accelerate to/past the speed of sound. This creates a lot of drag and other problems.

The wings already have to support 3.35x the weight of the entire aircraft including fuel - that's 30,820#. Adding support for a couple 400# engines is not a big deal. I'm sure that putting them (almost) directly over the gear simplified a lot of things too.

The gear needs to be tested at some huge landing force for certification. Not sure what it is for a plane like this, but if the engines are mounted on the fuselage, the fuselage must support 800# of engines with an arm of 2-3 meters in addition to the weight of the tail, fuselage and toilet. But, if the engines are mounted directly over the gear, that's a lot of structure that's not required in the fuselage.

-VO

VO
27th December, 2011 @ 06:01 pm PST
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