Even as the large-light HondaJet continues to make headway in flight and ground testing toward a scheduled 2013 certification, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is recognizing the man behind the aircraft – president and CEO of Honda Aircraft Michimasa Fujino – for the aerodynamic innovations that lie within the jet’s distinctive design.
The Institute has awarded Fujino the 2012 AIAA Aircraft Design Award for the HondaJet’s most unique and eye-catching characteristic – it’s over-the-wing engine configuration – a design feature that sets it apart from its peers in the light-jet category and defies traditional engineering.
Unlike other over-the-wing engine designs, which have traditionally suffered from high drag and lift reduction, the HondaJet’s configuration, the company claims, reduces drag and boosts performance, a claim that seems borne out by the excellent performance of the company’s prototypes, though to be fair, the HondaJet’s two main competitors, the emerging Citation M2 and the Embraer Phenom 100, boast strongly comparable performance.
The secret to the HondaJet’s performance, the company says, is something called favorable interference, an aerodynamic benefit that provides lower wave drag and a higher drag-divergence Mach number when the engine nacelles are positioned just right in relation to the wing.
In addition to a reduction in drag and an increase in fuel efficiency, the HondaJet’s engine positioning, the company says, reduce cabin noise, because the engines are farther away from the cabin, and help provide more space for passengers and cargo because the structure that typically supports the engines is in the wings and not part of the fuselage.
Fujino work on over-the-wing engine configurations has spanned decades, including a number of years spent developing Honda’s MH02 experimental aircraft, which also featured engines on top of the wings and in many ways served as a precursor to the current HondaJet design.