View Full Version : Here comes Honda!
Honda R&D Americas has released details about its experimental compact business jet after its recent maiden flight. The six-seat, twin-engine jet is designed to provide two major advantages: more interior space and greater fuel efficiency. It is made of a combination of composite materials with aluminum skins. By mounting the engines on the main wing instead of the fuselage, Honda officials said they created 30 percent more cabin space than conventional jets. The jet also incorporates tricks to help it slide through the air more easily, such as shaping the nose to generate laminar flow that cuts down on fuselage drag. Coupled with that are Honda's FADEC (full authority digital electronic control) HF118 turbofan engines that are said to sip fuel. The HondaJet features an estimated top speed of 420 knots and a service ceiling of 41,000 feet. It is scheduled to undergo 200 hours of flight testing to demonstrate and verify its design and performance capabilities, but there is no word on whether the jet will enter production.
but there is no word on whether the jet will enter production.
Honda is not a stupid company; if they didn't already see a market for this type of A/C they wouldn't have taken it this far. :)
Looks cool. I think corporate aviation is going to be the wave of the future, so the small biz jet business should start to see a rise.
Originally posted by Medpilot 2
Looks cool. I think corporate aviation is going to be the wave of the future, so the small biz jet business should start to see a rise. I couldn't agree more. Boeing is doing well with its Business Jet (737), and others on the top end of the scale also seem to be doing increasing business, while the number of entrants into the $5 million and under bracket is exploding. How many people are bringing a $1 - $2 million jet to market in the next couple of years? I've lost count.
With terrorism a continued global threat I think businesses large and small are hedging their bets and having their execs fly private instead of commercial. I know that if I had the bucks you wouldn't see me on a commercial flight if I could avoid it. No waiting; it flys when I'm ready, not the other way around; no stops on the way; I know who's flying with me; and I can go direct to the airport I want and not have to catch a puddle jumper to get there from a major airport.
From AOPA this morning...
HONDA, GE INK ENGINE DEAL
Honda Motor Company and GE Transportation have signed a joint agreement to market and certify Honda's HF118 jet engine for the small business jet market. The step moved Honda closer to its ultimate goal of one day offering its own business jet. The HF118 is now flying on the HondaJet in Greensboro, North Carolina, and on a test aircraft operated at Greensboro by Atlantic Aero. A more definitive agreement between Honda and GE will be signed later this year. The current HF118 is rated at 1,670 pounds of thrust, but Honda characterizes it as being in the 1,000- to 3,500-pound-thrust class. Certification is expected to take two to three years. Honda claims the engine is more fuel efficient than competing engines and could be used on jets carrying four to eight passengers.
If TSA stays in the drivers seat I think we'll see a GA/Small Business Aviation revial. When you see these Senior executive looking business travelers going through the lap top in bin, belt, wallet, keys, change, Rolex, eyeglass, in lap top bag, shoes off and onto the conveyor, hold up pants as you walk through the metal detector routine, you've got to figure that sooner or later they will figure out that that could board a chartered small plane with dignity and get there in about the same time since since they dont have to take time out of their day to get humilitated and treated like a convict by schmucks they wouldent hire to do their laundry.
A couple of thoughts: The on-wing pylons for the engine mounts look weird, but reportedly produce far less noise in the cabin- cool; And, I agree with all who look forward and see corporate flying as the 'boom'. The acft production records of the past few years already point that way, I believe.
Maybe the wealthier families in the 'hood' might look into fractional ownership, eh? Hey, here's my $200!
Originally posted by Wulfenite
If TSA stays in the drivers seat I think we'll see a GA/Small Business Aviation revial. When you see these Senior executive looking business travelers going through the lap top in bin, belt, wallet, keys, change, Rolex, eyeglass, in lap top bag, shoes off and onto the conveyor, hold up pants as you walk through the metal detector routine, you've got to figure that sooner or later they will figure out... It is actually about to get worse than you know. I had a last minute business trip to 2 cities recently. I had a 3 day warning and so the ticket was purchased less than 48 hours before the flight (do not even ask how many thousands it cost). I got the "VIP" treatment by the TSA at my home airport, nothing special the second airport and a "super VIP" treatment at the last airport. I complained to the TSA supervisor at the last airport about this and what he told me was that new rules are being implemented and his airport was one of the early ones to be fully in compliance. According to new rules, anyone who buys or makes any changes to the ticket at "the last minute" including taking an earlier or later flight the same day will be subjected to extra security. Gold and platinum frequent flier status will not be taken into consideration as had been promised by many airlines.
Of all the non-thinking moves by the TSA, this one has to be the tops. Who do you think is going to be subjected most to this rule? The business travelers who frequently travel with very short notices and make last minute changes because a meeting ended early or ran late. As soon as the economy picks up a little, you can count on high end general aviation experiencing a boom not seen since the 1960ís and 70ís. You can also count on the TSA clamoring to control GA as well. That would be in keeping with their motto: We are not happy till you are not happy.
Originally posted by 20pilot
I had a 3 day warning and so the ticket was purchased less than 48 hours before the flight (do not even ask how many thousands it cost). If you were spending that much, would it not have been just as feasible to charter a flight and save yourself all that aggravation?
That's a good looking airplane.
The more Biz aircraft, the more pilot jobs.:)
Originally posted by Texas T
If you were spending that much, would it not have been just as feasible to charter a flight and save yourself all that aggravation? Not quite, especially if you are travelling long distances. Airlines are aware of that competition and make sure that their full fare coach prices are low enough to ward off competition from that area. If you are sending 2-3 people first class, then a charter becomes a viable alternative but never for a single person travelling on full coach fare.
Maybe they will start building a "Civic" airplane for the rest of us poor folks too. I mean, if they are going to get in the aviation business, they might as well get into it up to their necks.
I just bought a new set of sectionals for flying around the eastern seaboard and it looks like the only 'free' airspace soon to be will exist just in certain backyards in certain areas of the west.
If another A-hole like, for instance, Pataki, gets his hands on the airspace regulation process, we'll be charged for flying in the atmosphere. Maybe special zones will be set up where, for a fee, one might fly to a certain height for a certain time.. like using the parks for camping and hiking. ARrrrgggg!(RANT finished.)
Originally posted by Bullman
Maybe they will start building a "Civic" airplane for the rest of us poor folks too. I mean, if they are going to get in the aviation business, they might as well get into it up to their necks. If the quality of their aircraft is as good as the quality of their cars, they will sell a bunch of them.
Although not a Honda, this article ties into the whole Light Jet category discussion...
A few years ago NASA proposed a small aircraft transportation system (SATS) that would serve under-utilized airports with on-demand flights, relieving larger airports of congestion in the process. While development of the NASA concept continues, entrepreneur Donald Burr is set to test the concept next year in a new company called iFly Air Taxi. Using 25 jets serving the Northeast, Burr and consultant Robert Crandall, former head of American Airlines, will launch a taxi service that promises middle managers a hassle-free $1,500 round-trip flight for distances of 400 nautical miles. Burr, who intends to make son Cameron president, was founder of People Express. Initial reports indicated Burr would buy jets from Adam Aircraft.
HONDA ESTABLISHES JET ENGINE COMPANY
Honda Motor Company has established a new U.S. subsidiary, Honda Aero, Inc., to focus on its aviation engine business. The new unit will be located at a yet-to-be-determined location, with plans to become operational by the end of the year. Honda Aero will prepare for commercialization, under a joint agreement with General Electric, of the HF118 turbofan jet engine, marking Honda's first step into the jet engine business. Development of the engine began in 1999. Full-scale flight tests of the HF118 engine have been conducted aboard Honda's prototype HondaJet aircraft in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Honda is continuing its development of the HondaJet.
Any guesses on aircraft names? They already have a small suv named a PILOT; will they have a plane named DRIVER?
Here's the REAL question...
Can you spiff-up the exhaust?!?
Seriously... cool concept... I hope it works for them.
Excellent reading - (Now he's got me missing my bike).
Among my many friends who have an interest in both flying and riding, this kind of cross-cultural engine comparison is nothing unusual. And it's always the motorcycle guys who puff up at the thought of their incredibly powerful, high-tech engines. Gee, they seem to think, if general-aviation had anywhere near that kind of technology, we'd all be flying faster and a whole lot less fuel.
The question of the moment is: Are they right?
Well, first of all, the "average" modern motorcycle engine is an amazing thing technically. And here I'm talking about the sporting motorcycles -- not Harleys. Although, truth be told, Harley has developed its line of engines to a very high degree of refinement and reliability within the constraints of what the average Hog buyer will accept. Recently, Harley introduced a new model called the V-Rod, which uses an engine developed in part by Porsche that is the embodiment of the state-of-the-art in motorcycle powerplants: four valves per cylinder, liquid cooling, high horsepower. But it's not a "traditional" Harley so it's been off to a slow sales start. Shame, it's a really good motorcycle.
But the real high tech is in the Japanese sportbikes, which with each new model year seem to reset the limits of clever design, low weight and high power. The current power king is a Kawasaki, the Ninja ZX-10R. It's 998cc (61 cubic inch) four-cylinder engine produces an astounding 160 horsepower at the motorcycle's rear wheel. Accounting for driveline losses of, on average, 13 percent from the crankshaft to the rear wheel, puts it at about 180 horsepower gross. That's an eye-watering amount of power in a lightweight motorcycle, but what really amazes me is that this power comes with a year-long warranty and full compliance with stringent noise and emissions regulations. Oh, and despite a 12.7:1 compression ratio, it'll run on 91-octane pump gas all day long. The engine's four valves in each combustion chamber are operated by dual overhead cams, of course, but feature tolerances so tight and materials so good that the valve-adjustment interval is every 20,000 miles. (On some modern sportbikes, it's even longer, making the interval longer than the predicted lifespan of the bike.)
Almost needless to say, the Kawasaki and motorcycles like it will run just about forever with only routine maintenance. In fact, the only recurring problem with this class of engine has to do with the transmission and clutch, and overwhelmingly as a result of rider abuse.
And they're dead cheap. You can buy this Kawasaki's engine, with the rest of the motorcycle attached, for $11,000.
What's This Got To Do With Airplanes?
Inevitably, my motorcycling friends ask why aircraft don't have high-specific-output engines. They're often surprised when I tell them I wouldn't want such a thing. For starters, motorcycle engines -- indeed, most high-output engines found outside of aviation -- are never intended to be used at high power for very long. I'd estimate the average duty cycle of a motorcycle engine around 5 percent power, maybe 10 percent on the low-horsepower versions. Outside of racing, there just aren't the opportunities to open up one of these beasts on public roads. After all, what is any sane person going to do with a sub-4-second 0-60-mph time or a top speed in excess of 170 mph?
I honestly can't imagine the internals of a 12,000-rpm motorcycle engine being happy at 75-percent power or more beyond short bursts. I've been to the Japanese factories, and have seen the brutal endurance testing carried out on new designs, but as a practical matter these engines are run at maximum power a for a small fraction of their lives.
Perhaps what's most amazing about this breed of motorcycle is the electronic integration. For example, the entire engine-control computer is in a box about twice the size of a pack of playing cards. It integrates the electronic fuel injection, which has separate maps for each of the four cylinders, with the ignition control, also a three-dimensional map that sets the spark event according to engine speed and load. On top of that, the computer is also controlling a butterfly valve in the exhaust system that varies system back-pressure to smooth out the torque curve. In addition, all the new fuel-injection systems have double butterfly valves, one controlled by the rider and the other by the computer. The goal is to smooth out throttle response and make the engine more predictable, a good thing when you have so much power in a package that weighs, including an average-sized rider, a little more than 600 pounds. That would be like having almost 1100 horsepower in your average sedan. Or 900 horsepower in your typical Bonanza. (Not that I'm saying it wouldn't be fun ... for awhile.)
Something else to keep in mind when comparing such disparate powerplants is that motorcycles get crummy mileage. That is, they may have a lot of horsepower per cubic centimeter but they're not even remotely fuel efficient. My own bike, an Aprilia Tuono, powered by a Rotax-built 998cc twin-cylinder engine, struggles to get more than 35 mpg. Considering that it takes all of 15 horsepower to maintain highway speed, you can see the problem.
Clearly motorcycle and aircraft powerplants are at the opposite ends of the power and efficiency spectra.
Honda Takes a Stab
Honda Aircraft Engine
Last year at Oshkosh, tucked away in a corner of the TCM booth, was a display engine of a design floated by Honda for a 370-cubic-inch, four-cylinder, direct-drive engine. Think of it as a fairly sophisticated IO-360 with liquid cooling and a version of the Aerosance/TCM FADEC system. I think it's critically important to understand the significance of Honda's design strategy. This is a fiercely competitive company, as proud of its engineering prowess as any company I know. When given the chance to out-tech its competition -- particularly in motorcycles -- Honda will take up the opportunity with vigor.
That the Honda design is a slow-turning, large-displacement engine with pushrod valve actuation says everything to me about the inherent rightness of our existing aircraft-engine designs. Believe me, if Honda thought it could do a better job with a double-overhead-cam, high-revving -- and, most crucially--high-tech engine, it would have. Remember, this is a company that prides itself on arriving at the cleverest, least-obvious solutions to everyday engineering challenges. I can only imagine the soul searching involved for Honda's engineers to crank out such a seemingly low-tech design.
Although the Honda engine's level of technology seems to pay homage to conventional aircraft engines, I have no doubt that its quality would be amazingly good. Back to bikes for a second: Several manufacturers have taken to a new way of casting aluminum using a vacuum die-casting method. The resulting parts are light -- because they don't have to be over-engineered to accommodate the normal variability in cast materials -- and astoundingly beautiful in their as-cast form. Moreover, the typical motorcycle is fabulously well built. The engine castings are nearly perfect; the frame welds are often a work of art (where you can see them, anyway, as the hidden welds are done by the much less artful robot); and the precision is nothing short of amazing. Everything fits every time. Lightweight aluminum engines do not break. Alloy motorcycle frames made from a combination of pressure-cast, die-cast, sand-cast and extruded members are immensely strong and measure within millimeters from one example to the other across their most distant points.
Here's where I'm hoping Honda's influence will come to bear on general aviation. I am among those who believe the basic aircraft engine -- even acknowledging that it is a design more than 40 years old -- is an incredible thing. No other engine I'm familiar with combines the power and weight with efficiency. For what it needs to do, the typical O-320 or IO-550 is a terrific design. If Honda produces a "modern" flat engine with the typically jewel-like quality of a motorcycle engine, everyone will sit up and take notice.
Now Let's Move Forward
What general-aviation engines need amounts to this: Better manufacturing and a dose of new technology overlay. The last first: Continental's FADEC system is a good groundbreaker, much like the first fuel injection systems that replaced carburetors in motorcycles not too many years ago. GAMI's Prism system, an adaptive ignition system, will take the technology to the next level. I've been watching this system for years, and have seen it in action on a variety of real, live engines; it holds incredible promise but will not be an easy thing to certify. (This is not my bright idea; just ask the GAMI staff.)
For the engine manufacturers proper, the focus needs to be quality control. It astounds me that in designs so mature, so supposedly well-known by the production department and everyone else with a wrench in his pocket, still have premature failures because of things like out-of-round cylinder barrels or valve guides not placed exactly in the center of the valve seats. This is basic stuff.
And while I appreciate that the world of supplier manufacturing -- where you don't build every part in-house -- is often harsh, particularly for a small-volume concern, I believe the issues can be resolved. For motorcycles, there are multiple suppliers for most every part, but the secondary or tertiary suppliers are seldom used. They don't have to be.
In any event, I'm off to Oshkosh in the next few days, and I'm eager to see what's out there. Maybe Honda will show us something special. I'm ready.
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