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Honda to Sell HondaJet in US, Partner with Piper

25 July 2006

Hondajetwing
HondaJet’s patented over-the-wing engine-mount configuration enables positioning the HF-118 engines on the upper surfaces of the wing to reduce drag at high speed, improving fuel efficiency.

Honda plans to enter the HondaJet (earlier post) in the growing very light jet (VLJ) market, with the process of accepting sales orders expected to begin in the US in fall 2006.

Toward this goal, Honda will establish a new US company to hold FAA type certification and production certification. Honda’s goal is to complete type certification in about 3-4 years, followed by the start of production in the US.

Making the announcement at the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) AirVenture 2006, Honda also revealed plans to form a business alliance with Piper Aircraft, Inc. to collaborate on sales and service, and to explore opportunities in engineering and other areas within general and business aviation.

Aviation has been an important dream of Honda for more than four decades. Our goal is consistent with the philosophy of other Honda products—to provide convenient and efficient transportation that will make people’s lives better. We are excited now to enter a new dimension of mobility.

—Satoshi Toshida, senior managing director of Honda Motor Co.

he HondaJet prototype reportedly gets 40% better fuel economy than comparable aircraft. The result of 20 years of aviation research, key HondaJet innovations include a patented over-the-wing engine-mount configuration, a natural-laminar flow (NLF) wing and fuselage nose, and an advanced all-composite fuselage structure.

HondaJet’s NLF wing and NLF fuselage nose were developed through extensive analyses and wind-tunnel testing. HondaJet’s patented over-the-wing engine-mount configuration helps eliminate the need for a structure to mount the engines to the rear fuselage, maximizing space in the fuselage for passengers and luggage. Further, by determining the optimal position for the engines, the over-the-wing mount actually reduces drag at high speed to improve fuel efficiency.

The advanced all-composite fuselage structure consists of a combination of honeycomb sandwich structure and co-cured stiffened panels. It was developed to reduce weight and manufacturing costs. This aircraft is also outfitted with a state-of-the-art all-glass flight deck with an integrated avionics system that displays all information digitally on a high resolution flat display, and also has an autopilot function.

Honda formed a 50:50 joint venture with GE—GE Honda Aero Engines LLC—in 2004 to manufacture and market the HF118 family of commercial turbofan engines ranging in thrust from 1,000 to 3,500 pounds. The initial HF118 engine for the HondaJet will be rated in the 1,700-pound-thrust class.

To date the prototype six-to-seven seat HondaJet has completed more than 240 hours of flight-testing since December 2003. So far, the prototype HondaJet has achieved an altitude of 43,000 feet and a speed of 412 knots and is on course to meet or exceed all of its design specifications.

The prototype has a range of 2,037 km (1,100 nm) and a maximum speed of 778 km/hr (420 knots).

July 25, 2006 in Aviation, Fuel Efficiency | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack (1)

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I'd like to see the use of lightweight materials and research supporting CFD & wind tunnels being used between their new aviation division and their automotive division.

Dreams of mass produced aluminum and Carbon FRP in a $25,000 4 seat automobile...

Yeah not real likely to see a full composite automobile for $25,000. The HondaJet likely weighs around 5000-7500 pounds, similar to other VLJ's, and will probably ring the register for $1.5 - 2 million. When you figure an automobile the size of an Accord could weigh as little as 2000 pounds with a full composite construction, if we go by material weight, it would probably still run $500,000 or so, similar to composite cars like the Pagoni Zonda F, Ferrari Enzo, and Porsche Carrera GT.

Still, Honda's dedication to innovation is an important development in the VLJ market and I'm glad to see they intend to actually try and market it rather than just playing around with the aircraft for fun, much like their robotics seem to still be in the category of "fun" stuff, rather than saleable product. I am curious if there would be advantages on large (100-350) passenger aircraft to move the engines from under the wing to over the wing? Perhaps Honda/Piper will consult with Boeing or Airbus to run simulations in their future aircraft as well.

And in other news, another company called Eclipse Aviation (http://www.eclipseaviation.com) is currently nearing the end of their FAA approval process. They have designed a small business jet also using modern lightweight materials, and target an operating cost 50 % or more lower than current available models.
From a technological point of view I find this very interesting, and I am impressed by the engineering behind all this. However, the most probable result of cheaper flights is that many more people will be flying, resulting in an overall increase in CO2 emissions.

I was not thinking a full composite vehicle. More like a vehicle with an aluminum structure and composite exterior panels. Still pricey but not quite as labor intensive to layup panels as opposed to creating a passenger structure from composites (non-autoclaved Carbon fiber hoods are around 3 times the price of OEM steel hoods for many vehicles if purchased "aftermarket" for an example and altogether hood, trunk, fenders, and doors would cost ~$3000 if purchased aftermarket).

LOL,
Don't be so sure about that. Boeing and Lockheed Martin have advanced forward swept wing/box wing/blended body wing/flying wing designs for freighters, military transports, and tankers. They all have the advantage of 30%+ improvements on performance vs conventional designs.
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/nsa.htm
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/kc-x.htm
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/gra.htm

Another aspect is the fact that this line of engines are in line (as to fuel efficiency, weight and weight thrust ratio) with possible powerplant for a cruise missile. I would not be surprised if Honda (or another Japanese company) uses the tech in this engine and aircraft towards the R&D and manufacturing of indigenous turbine powered missiles in the next 10 yrs. The customer would likely be the reconstituted, and unshackled Japanese Armed Forces.

allen:

My impression is that the technology transfer was basically the other direction. Our military invented cruise missiles with small jet engines, and aircraft designers have been hoping to commercialize the technology for some time now. I'd imagine that if the Japanese army wanted cruise missiles, they'd just figure out how to build them and then go ahead and do it. I don't think they need this project as a tech transfer vector.

Honda is such an awesome company. It always amazes me how they can just break into different realms and excel. I read a great article about them a few weeks ago:
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000101&sid=aGUDxfTgbHY4&refer=japan

Allen Z, the phrase "Global Security" cracks me up. The only thing the globe needs protection from are the threats from within.

Peter,
Honda can be seen as similar to Bell Labs in their heyday. Too bad they were spun off into oblivion.
http://www.privateline.com/mt_telecomhistory/a_bell_labs_history/
_
As to the site posted above at Jul 25, 2006 12:48:03 PM, it is a catchy name, and a thinktank needs one to be seen. What they do is info/intel gathering and analysis on the open source level. As for the name "Global Security" it does cover security issues on a global basis, with an eye on the US domestic security. They also cover international space exploration and research, as well as usage of orbital craft for commercial and military ends.
_
NBK-Boston,
The SDF of Japan is currently a defensively orientated force (look at the name). They have not needed such strategic offensive weapons as turbine poweed cruise missiles in the past. Look at their Kongo class destroyers. They are fitted out with Aegis systems and air defense missiles, but no Tomahawks. They are likely to change this and the defensive posture of the SDF. As to the issue of the development of cruise missiles, the engine, aircraft, and construction tech/methods would be useful. It also would not be the only system that may be in a defense buildup/reposturing. Tactical/strategic ballistic missiles based on solid fueled satellite launchers are possible. One existing example would be the M5 space launch vehicle:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M-5_rocket

I will hand it to them for the engine mount though. In the past, airliners and transports when equipt with engines mounted on wings, they were either on pods underneath and offset forward of the wing, or buried in the wing/wing root. This is largely due to:
a) maintenance is easier with the engine lower to the ground and unobstructed to a large degree
b) lower center of gravity
c) with engines hung on pods, the forces are largely in tension, which is good since metals handle tension forces well. The only major exception would be in thrust reverse mode.
d) aircraft with engines mounted underneath the wing, during takeoff, use engine thrust in conjunction with wing flaps to generate more lift, lower takeoff speeds, and shorter takeoff runs; shorter landing length is another plus.
_
___With this design, the aircraft is small and low enough to use this mount without serious access issues. They had to address moment issues on two axes, running on the Z and X axes. Compression forces and and lift/takeoff run facets were also tackled.
_
However, enlarging the design (to regional jet size and beyond) would be a challenge due to forces involved.
_
___Some of Honda's work will be similar to Boeing's, since their flying wing design has engines mounted in comparable ways and locations.

allen:

Japan already has cruise missle technology which takes advantage of small jet engines. Its legal posture as a "self defense force" does not change its position on acquiring most types of weapons systems. It has had such missiles for a number of years. Just based on surface appearances, my guess is that the weapons proliferation potential of this Honda Jet is minimal -- any weapons capabilities embodied in that jet have long been within Japanese reach, well before this airplane was proposed.

For more information on cruise missiles generally and Japan's arsenal in particular, see:

http://fas.org/nuke/intro/cm/index.html
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/japan/weapons.htm

NBK-Boston,
While it is true they already have turbine powered missiles with 100+km range, they do not have strategic weapons of the same catagory, namely long range cruise missiles under MTCR.
_The jet powered missiles they already have also are turbojet powered. Turbofans are more efficient, per unit of fuel, particularly at lower altitudes. This would increase the range, and/or payload, of existing missiles if upgraded with turbofans.
_Having developed the engine, aircraft, and the associated technology, Honda is one of the companies uniquely situated to do this. There is another possibility, with mostly Honda licensing the technology to defense contractors. Those companies then go onto design, test, and manufacture the weapons.
_Perhaps they can get the per unit cost, if mass produced, to less than $100,000.

allen:

I suppose that more practical experience building small jets can only help Japan's technical capabilities, to whatever extent they can be or need to be helped. However, I am also under the impression that GE is the main force behind the engine fabrication effort, having a major aero engine business at present, and some experience, I believe, with small engines meant for the defense market.

To the extent that Honda learns new things from GE, they could use that knowledge for domestic (Japanese) defense work. My main point above, though, was that this project is not a make-or-break piece of technology transfer for the Japanese missile industry. If they wanted/want long-range cruise missiles badly enough, they can develop them using entirely local resources. This may just make it somewhat cheaper for them.

Regarding price, I would posit that $100,000 per unit is somewhat optimistic. In the US, the older Tomahawk missles cost about $1 million per unit, and a newer, simplified design (substituting GPS navigation for the older, more complicated radar-mapping system, among other things) is said to cost $500K to $600K per unit. Japan could go with a simplified design, but since the US controls the GPS constallation, they could not assure themselves of fully available accurate navigation. Developing a fail-safe navigation system would add to their costs. See: http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/smart/bgm-109.htm

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