Photo: flickr/Markus Eigenheer
A new aircraft by Honda may soon be flying over your city.
The Japanese automobile manufacturer enjoys a worldwide reputation for quality and hopes to bolster its scope with a foray into aviation. The project has been in development for more than 20 years, with the company facing the challenge of integrating its automotive culture with an aerospace one.
The HondaJet is a joint venture between corporations in Japan and the United States although most of the development has taken place at a plant in Greensboro, North Carolina built specially for construction of the plane.
The jet boasts several design innovations:
- The Natural Laminar Flow (NLF) design of the wings can decrease air drag and increase the overall aerodynamics of the aircraft. Honda says the cost of manufacturing the jet is lower because the sleek wings are made up of fewer parts.
- The all-composite fuselage is lighter and more fuel-efficient than the aluminum ones that are common in other jets. The design also allows for a roomier cabin.
- Over-the-wing engines are probably the HondaJet’s most distinctive feature. Instead of placing the engine at the rear of the plane, Honda mounted them atop the wings, continuing the effort to decrease drag. The engines are also lightweight to save fuel and quieter.
The HondaJet seats seven passengers, boasts an advanced cockpit that is the last word in ergonomics and sells for $4.5 million. There are already about a hundred orders although final approval is pending by the Federal Aviation Administration for the plane to be sold.
If the nose of the aircraft seems familiar, you may own a pair of Salvatore Ferragamo shoes. Honda Aircraft Company CEO Michimasa Fujino says his first sketches of the plane were inspired by the distinctive elongated tip of the Italian company’s high-heeled shoes.