With 230 total aircraft delivered, the Honda Aircraft Company continues development on its singular model series, the HA-420 type HondaJet. Now in its Elite II version announced at the National Business Aviation Association conference in October 2022, the light twin-engine jet powered by GE Honda Aero HF120 turbines is completing the final stages of its validation under the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which company representatives expect to occur by the end of the summer.
At a press briefing at AERO 2023 in Friedrichshafen, Germany, on April 19, Peter Kriegler, vice president of sales at Honda Aircraft, gave an update on the Elite II’s next upgrades—specifically its autothrottle. The AT is a key component that must be in place in order to complete the Garmin Autoland suite on the HondaJet—which will make it the first twin-engine jet approved with this functionality. The Elite II gained FAA certification without the AT; this update has been projected for completion in the summer 2023, and Kriegler confirmed that progress is on track.
“It’s really about operational improvements to the aircraft, from a capability standpoint, from a safety standpoint, with the Garmin systems that we’re introducing in the cockpit,” said Kriegler, “as well as just a collection of refinements that we’ve learned from over the years.”
On the display floor for the first time at AERO, the HondaJet shown is not yet the Elite II version—but once it finishes EASA validation, the new model will post improved performance, as a result of a 200-pound maximum gross weight increase that has enabled increases in all weight limits, including the fuel load, which went up by 217 pounds. That will boost the jet’s range to 1,547 nm, up from the original HondaJet’s 1,241 nm and the Elite’s 1,457 nm. The New York to South Florida route in the U.S. is made easily achievable.
The Elite II also features a new matte black exterior paint finish that has proven popular and striking on the ramp, with two of the new schemes delivered thus far, according to Kriegler.
When the company paused production of the HA-420 model to accommodate the certification of the Elite II, it impacted deliveries, bringing the 2022 total for the company down to 18 units. However, it’s making up for lost time in 2023, and Kriegler anticipates that the first EASA-validated Elite II will be ready right after that process is complete.
With sustainable aviation top of mind at AERO, it follows that Honda Aircraft would also want to highlight its own chops in this area, which are significant. While the base model has always posted up to a 15 percent lower fuel burn than comparative models in the category, according to the company, it is also making forays into the future with its own testing on sustainable aviation fuel.
“In an effort to be environmentally responsible, we really put a huge emphasis on fuel efficiency,” said Kriegler. “As we look to the future where we’re using SAF, our partner in our engine program, GE Honda Aero Engines, has begun testing on 100 percent SAF, so we look to the future where we can fly in emission-free flight.”