A Detailed Review of the New HondaJet

by Brandon Ray · June 1, 2016

HondaJetA Detailed Review of the New HondaJet

Observations From my First Ride in the New Plane

Brandon J. Ray

A few weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to take a ride on the brand new HondaJet, compliments of Cutter Aviation. This aircraft has been in development since before I was a pilot, so to see it come to fruition was a real treat.

I first saw the HondaJet in person at EAA AirVenture last year. Honda hosted a huge crowd and hundreds of people gathered under the Honda tent just to catch a glimpse of the revolutionary jet. With the composite fuselage and over-the-wing engine design, this sleek airplane has exceptional ramp appeal. The wings are designed with a smooth surface allowing for laminar flow over the wings, which increases the efficiency and improves the aerodynamics of the aircraft.

During the demo flight I rode in the back, only wishing this was my regular mode of transportation. While any pilot would jump at the chance to fly this plane, I enjoyed the opportunity to take it all in from the passenger’s perspective.

Performance

First, let’s look at just a few of the performance specifications achieved by the HondaJet:

  • Max Cruise Speed: 420 KTAS at 30,000 ft.
  • Max Cruise Altitude: 43,000 ft.
  • Range: 1180 nm (NBAA IFR Range with 4 occupants)
  • Rate of Climb: 3,990 feet per minute

The speed and altitude capability of the HondaJet outperform most of the competition, allowing you a more comfortable, fast, and efficient ride.HondaJet Controls

Simplicity and Automation

I’m accustomed to flying jets that require active monitoring of the start sequence: Checking the N2 and N1 indications, monitoring the temperatures, checking the ignition, oil pressure, and fuel flows. With the GE Honda HF120 turbo-fan engines, the startup sequence was simple and automatic… Just push a button to initiate the start sequence, then move the thrust levers to the idle position. The system monitors the starting sequence for any abnormalities. This is as simple as it gets.HondaJet Start Buttons

This airplane knows what you’re thinking, even before you do… For instance, even the exterior lights are automated. Release the parking brake, and the taxi light turns on. Advance the power for takeoff, and the landing lights and strobe lights come on. The recognition lights stay on anytime below 18,000 feet, and automatically turn off in the flight levels. Of course, you can also manually control the lights if needed.

HondaJet Engine

Innovation

As we taxied out, the sound of the airframe was more noticeable than other jets I have flown. It was just general creaking and flexing of the airframe as we taxied over an imperfect surface. This happens on most airplanes, except usually the engine noise overpowers it to the point that we don’t notice. In the HondaJet, the engine noise was minimal, so you could hear a lot of sounds that wouldn’t normally be audible. The jet is quiet enough that I could hear the pilots talking up front even though I was sitting in the rear seats.

OTWEM – Over the Wing Engine Mount

The over-the-wing engine mount design provides several distinct benefits:

  • HondaJet Over the Wing Engine MountLess drag than fuselage-mounted engines, resulting in improved efficiency
  • Less vibration/noise translated to the airframe
  • The absence of fuselage mounts, which opens up the cabin and baggage area allowing more room between seats and a larger baggage area.
  • Location of the wing-mounted pylon allows the landing gear structure to be in close proximity, saving weight over separate structures.
    HondaJet Over the Wing Engine MountHondaJet Over the Wing Engine Mount

Interior

The passenger seats are well-designed for maximum comfort. The seats articulate and slide out towards the center of the aisle, which provides extra headroom and elbow room. Conveniently located next to each seat are two cupholders. The light tan leather interior was complimented by wood grain tables and overlays. In the front of the cabin are bins which allow for storage of supplies, or snacks, and they are soon expected to have ice bins available to use in the drawers as well.

HondaJet Interior HondaJet Interior HondaJet Interior HondaJet Interior HondaJet InteriorHondaJet Interior

The windows have internal electrically powered blinds that lower with the simple press of a button. The interior is configured with two cockpit seats and four cabin seats with an optional fifth cabin seat which is side-facing. To get in the cockpit, there are hand holds on the ceiling to help as you position yourself in the front. The pilot seats also have several adjustments to set the seat positioning for individual comfort.

HondaJet Interior
HondaJet Cockpit Handle

Baggage

There are baggage areas in the nose and in the aft section of the airplane. In total, they amount to 66 cubic feet of room for cargo.HondaJet Cargo

Amenities

One of the many features that will help you sell the idea of this plane to your significant-other is the walk-in lavatory, which has a real door (as opposed to a curtain or no curtain at all). Even the lav incorporated thoughtful design including a skylight and an automatic sink. Impressive for a light jet.

Now for a topic that most people won’t tell you about… Most planes of this size require that you carry the lavatory waste water tank through the cabin of the airplane to empty it between flights. Not a fun activity and one that even some FBOs will decline due to concerns of accidentally spilling something on your nice interior. But unlike most airplanes of this size, the HondaJet offers an optional externally-serviceable lavatory. I would highly recommend getting this option so that the less-glamorous duties become a little easier to manage.

HondaJet Interior HondaJet Interior HondaJet Interior

Wingspan

With a wingspan of only 40 feet, the HondaJet is easily maneuverable on the ground even at small airports with tight taxiways. The wingspan is only a few more feet than the wingspan of the Cirrus SR22 or Cessna TTx. After the pilots worked through apparently simple checklists, we were taking off from Conroe North-Houston Regional Airport and on our way to a great flight.

Avionics

The HondaJet’s Garmin G3000 is an incredible system and the integration was a success. The angle of the GTCs (Garmin Touchscreen Controllers) was ideal to minimize heads-down activity (as opposed to being mounted flat as in a few other aircraft configurations). The performance was good and the prospective owner seemed at ease with controlling the airplane. While I didn’t get to note all the real world performance specs, I hope to do a more thorough evaluation from the pilot seat next time.

HondaJet G3000

HondaJet Avionics HondaJet Standby Instrument HondaJet G3000

Cruise Speed Control

This is a new button on the Garmin autopilot that I had not seen before. It does exactly what it sounds like… It’s cruise control for the cruise phase of flight. Apparently, it holds a selected speed while in the ALT (altitude hold) mode within 5% of the selected N1 setting. It’s not a complete auto-thrust system, but it should help eliminate repetitive manual thrust adjustments in cruise.

HondaJet Autopilot

Speed brakes

On most airplanes the speed brakes are mounted on the wings and tend to be noisy. The HondaJet is the first plane I have seen with speed brakes mounted on the tail. This unique arrangement results in very little noise or vibration when activated.

HondaJet Speed Brake LeverHondaJet Speed Brakes

Icing

The wings are heated with bleed air from the engines, the windshields are electronically heated. The de-ice system for the tail is something I found quite interesting. The system uses electrical pulses to basically “thump” the ice off the tail. It’s like having inflatable boots, without the boots. They call it EMEDS: electro-mechanical explosion deice system. The system provides benefits over traditional methods such as pneumatic boots or TKS systems.

EMEDS – How does it work?

low-power-deicing-illusAccording to the manufacturer, Cox and Company, “A microsecond duration high current electrical pulse delivered to the actuators in carefully controlled timed sequences generates opposing electro-magnetic fields that cause the actuators to change shape rapidly. This change of the actuator shape is transmitted to the erosion shield of the LEA causing it to flex and vibrate at very high frequencies. This rapid motion results in acceleration-based debonding of accumulated ice on the erosion shield.”

Check out these videos to see the technology in action.

 

Speeds

The speeds for the HondaJet are simple to remember. 200 KIAS max gear speed and Approach flap setting. 160 KIAS max speed for Landing flaps. While you are on final approach to landing, the yaw damper remains on to keep the approach smooth, and then it automatically disconnects at 50 feet to give the pilot full control of the rudder. The “green dot” shown on the primary flight display allows the pilot to view the airplane’s best AOA (angle of attack) speed, or L/D (lift/drag) max.

Landing

The approach to landing felt stable and the approach speeds would be a comfortable transition for most pilots who fly fast single-engines like the Cirrus, TTx, or Meridian. The trailing link gear allows for smooth landings and helps keep pilot egos fully intact.HondaJet Trailing Link Landing Gear

Customer Support

One of my concerns with any new airplane manufacturer would be company viability and customer support. With Honda at the helm, the company viability is certainly not as much of a concern as it would be with a start-up aviation enterprise. Even still, I pressed to find out what preparations were being made by Honda to keep customers flying after the sale. Here are some of the highlights of what I learned:

  • Locally for Texas customers, Cutter Aviation already has two dealership / service locations for the HondaJet (San Antonio & Addison). Each location has at least 3 Honda Factory Trained technicians (1 airframe, 1 engine, 1 avionics). An additional service location is in Phoenix.
  • The dealers stock parts, but Honda also has a parts warehouse at the factory in Greensboro, NC. With FedEx having a hub on the field in Greensboro, Honda can ship parts overnight up until 7pm for AOG (aircraft on ground) situations. In my opinion, this is an important facet of their support system for keeping mission-critical flights on schedule.
  • Part 145 repair station is also available at the HondaJet factory.
  • Cutter Aviation offers a 24 hour customer support specialist for AOG situations, to arrange for dispatching parts, pilots, or mechanics to an aircraft wherever it is.
  • Honda offers FlightReady, a maintenance program for the airframe and Honda/GE offers EMC, an engine maintenance program. If the customer is enrolled in the programs, maintenance is paid on an hourly basis. If the customer chooses the highest level of coverage, all AOG, parts, shipping, labor, overhauls, etc. is covered in the program.

HondaJet Logo from plane

Maintenance Programs

Although the maintenance programs would likely raise your immediate operating cost per hour, they provide predictability over the ownership of the aircraft. Without these programs, your early operating costs may be low, but you would be taking a gamble hoping that no surprises occur during the span of your ownership. Many owners prefer the ability to set a predictable, level budget with the consideration of maintenance costs built into their hourly calculations. If you elect to decline these programs, then consider setting aside an equivalent amount of funds for maintenance reserves.

While I am usually skeptical of the support system of a newcomer to the aviation industry, I feel a sense of confidence in HondaJet’s ability to support their customers even while the fleet is in its early growth phases.

Summary

If you’re looking for a light jet with the latest technological innovations, the HondaJet might be the one for you. The luxury of this beautiful plane combined with stunning performance will make the HondaJet an attractive choice for many buyers.

Special thanks to John Delawyer with Cutter Aviation for inviting me along for the ride.

HondaJet Brandon Ray

Affiliate Disclosure – We help buyers find the right airplane.

We have affiliations with multiple aircraft manufacturers and aircraft dealers, which may allow us to earn a commission or referral fee. Since we are not exclusive to one particular manufacturer, we are able to bring you unbiased information to make an informed decision rather than one-sided reviews. If this information has helped influence your decision, please consider using us as the referral source for your purchase. If you’re a serious buyer for a new aircraft, call me directly and I’ll help coordinate demo flights for you and assist with the purchase process. – Brandon Ray (866) 227-8149.

Disclaimer – Keeping it real.

We try to keep our facts straight, but errors may occur. Please do not use our generic performance numbers or specifications presented for any actual flight planning. You should rely on the manufacturer’s approved documentation when making flying or purchasing decisions based on specific numbers or features.

Other ideas?

I invite constructive input if I missed something that should be included here. Send me your comments.

How it Started

One of my best friends in high school, (Doug Gray) was a private pilot. He offered to take me up for a flight in a 1967 Cessna 150, N6228S. We took off from Calhoun, Georgia, and he took me on a scenic tour of the area, I was hooked. I later found out that my English teacher, (Jan Haluska) was also a flight instructor and the school was offering a ground school course the next year, which he taught, along with flight training with the goal of becoming a private pilot. I managed to talk my dad into funding the training, at the time the total cost was right around $500. Cessna 150 rental rates where $12 an hour, and the 172 we used for cross country was $15 an hour including fuel.

Training Begins

It started August of 1977. The fall semester rolls around, and I am enrolled in ground school, and if memory serves me, we met twice a week. First came the paperwork for my student pilot certificate, which at the time was included with the 3rd class medical. I loved ground school, especially learning navigation, plotting courses on the sectional, again this was before iPads and GPS, so we did a lot of dead reckoning and VOR navigation for cross countries. At the end of the course, I made an 83% on the Private Pilot written exam, remember this was before we had the question-and-answer books that on future test I would consume before taking a written.

2022.06.09 11.19 Flyhpa 62a27fea7716a

Flying

The fun really began on August 22, 1977, it was my first flight. To my surprise we used the same Cessna 150, N6228S that my friend Doug Gray had taken me for a ride in. The Cessna 150 had a standard VFR instrument panel, with one NAV/COM, and one VOR CDI. No intercom, so no headset, at the time I didn’t know what I was missing. I didn’t get my first headset until I started my instrument training in 2003. I was a big guy, I was 6’ 4” and weighed 245 lbs. but I do not remember being uncomfortable in the 150 even with the instructor in the right seat.

First flight lasted .8 hours, and we accomplished orentation, shallow turns, stability, and effects of flight controls. Over the next few months we added steep 720’s, slow flight, stalls, turns around a point, S-turns, emergencies, landings, (short field, soft field and normal).

Learning

At this point I want to talk about a training experience that still stands out. We were close to solo and were practicing takeoffs and landings. Turning base to final Jan got very upset at the way I was cross controlling the aircraft. Cross control is when you are in, say a left turn, and use opposite rudder to line the nose up with the runway. So, he had me depart the pattern and head east to the practice area, and climbing up to 5500 feet MSL, he had me slow down to just above stalling speed, start a left shallow turn and add right rudder. As the airplane stalled I had the strangest sensation, no roller coaster has ever come close, instead of blue sky in the windscreen I was looking at brown ground, and as far as I could tell we were upside down, through the terror of the moment Jan talked me out of the spin, controls neutral, oposite rudder, pull slowly out of the dive. As we leveled off he asked me what altitude we were at, as I remember it was around 2,800 feet MSL. Then he asked me what would happen if I experenced this on base to final in the traffic pattern. The answer was obvious, I would be a pile of wreckage off the end of the runway with a very short-lived aviation career. Needless to say this cured my cross-control tendencies.

Another training event the sticks out in my mind was the first time we did takeoffs and landings at the High School runway. The runway was 1,500 feet long, not sure of the width, but it seems like we had about 5 feet on each side of the wheels when on the center line of the runway. Landing from the south you also had to go between a cutout in the trees to be able to stop in time on the runway. After getting confortable landing here every runway since seemed huge. I remember landing at Chattanooga (KCHA) on a night cross country and commenting to Jan, that I felt like I could of landed sideways on the runway, it felt that large.

Very soon after this I started wearing old shirts to all my flight lessons, the reason for this occurred on February 8, 1978. The lesson that day was stalls, takeoffs and Landing. As we were taxing back in Jan told me it was time for my first solo. I was very excited, and after some last minute advice from Jan, including watch for floating on landing the plane will be light with him not in the right seat, complete 3 takeoffs and landings to a full stop. It was a blast, and at the end of my shirt was shorter in the back because Jan cut the tail out of it signed and dated my solo [an aviation tradition]. Total flight time accumulated on the day of my solo was 18.1 hours. I was now officially a pilot with solo priveleges.

In my next article I start cross country training, when Jan decided that it would be best accomplished this in the 172. Checking out in N5970R was like moving into a 747, this started a love affair with one of my faviriote planes to date. Since this time I have flown over 900 hours in many different models of the 172 and feel like I am stepping into an old friend every time.

More about Randy here: https://www.flyhpa.com/team/randy-delong/

 

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