Released: October 17, 2006
Two years ago, I came to NBAA in Las Vegas … to announce Honda’s entry into the field of aviation through the formation of GE-Honda Aero. Today, we are pleased to take another significant step … entering a new dimension of mobility … by starting sales of HondaJet … a new advanced light jet of our own design.
Aviation has long been a dream for Honda. I recall as a very young engineer in 1969, I was working overtime late at night … when I heard a strange, high pitched engine sound. Then, I saw an odd looking car moving slowly through the research lab. It was powered by a turbine engine under study by a team of Honda engineers. From the standpoint of technology … this research project had no relation to the HondaJet we introduce today. But … in a spiritual sense … I guess you could say it was the first HondaJet.
The point is … even as Honda grew from a motorcycle maker into an automaker … and a leading producer of power equipment products … our vision was as a mobility company, and we always kept one eye on the sky. It has been more or less 40 years of continuous challenges.
This personal passion for aviation started with the founder of Honda Motor Company … Soichiro Honda. And it continued with every former CEO of our company. They all helped keep the dream alive. In fact, I would say their passion was much stronger than my own. For me, launching sales of HondaJet is not such an emotional decision.
A passion for aviation propelled HondaJet into the air, but a strong business case is what is taking it to the customer. And I am very confident in the success of this project. In every one of our business activities … our goal is to create new value for the customer. And HondaJet meets this challenging objective. Simply and frankly, we would not have taken this step to commercialize HondaJet unless it created new value for aviation customers.
We began focused research in the field of aviation with two different research projects -- 20 years ago. One project studied turbine jet engines. The other focused on the aircraft. Today, powered by the HF 120 engine of GE-Honda Aero … HondaJet represents the powerful synergy of those efforts.
Throughout our corporate history, it has been a hallmark of Honda to develop original technology for the benefit of our customers and society. I see the development of HondaJet as yet another positive demonstration that the challenging spirit of Honda still exists in our engineers today.
At the same time, while we believe in the importance of original technology, we have always involved strategic partners where it provides value for the customer. So, we are pleased to have both GE-Honda Aero and Piper Aircraft as strategic partners in this venture. Together we will form a strong team … that creates new value in the field of aviation.
I want to thank all of you in the aviation community for accepting Honda so warmly into the field of aviation. We are excited to join this industry. And we look forward to making a valued contribution.
Finally, one month from today marks the 100 year anniversary of the birth of Mr. Honda. Today’s launch of HondaJet is a great way to celebrate his spirit of challenge and innovation.
Today,Honda takes another step toward the market introduction of HondaJet. Since we announced the commercialization of HondaJet at Oshkosh, we have been moving at a hectic pace. We established a new company, the Honda Aircraft Company in Greensboro, North Carolina, to oversee further development, marketing, production, sales and service of HondaJet.
And, after we announced at Oshkosh, I received many congratulatory notes and emails. Not only from customers but also from American friends working for other airframe manufacturers and from colleagues at NASA and the FAA. I have always appreciated the fairness and generosity of American people toward persons who keep challenging to create something new. So today, I am very honored to share this moment with you.
Over the last two and a half years, we conducted flight testing to validate HondaJet’s design and performance. Based on these tests and extensive market studies, we went from a prototype aircraft to achieving the specifications of the production HondaJet.
HondaJet now offers a maximum speed of 420kt with fuel efficiency that is about 30-to-35 percent better at cruise than those of similar size jets. We achieved this level of efficiency without any compromise to the HondaJet concept. That means offering a superior combination of high speed performance and high fuel efficiency at the same time.
As for range performance, HondaJet’s VFR range is 1400nm, and IFR range is 1180 nm. Based on our extensive market analysis, this covers the majority of the business and private use for this class of jet.
By employing the unique over-the-wing-engine mount design, HondaJet is also able to provide a new level of passenger comfort and utility. Cabin length is best-in-class and also baggage capacity is much larger than the competition.
Today, we are very excited to showcase the interior concept of HondaJet for the very first time. Please take a look at this early concept interior mock-up for the HondaJet standard configuration. In addition, to satisfy strong demand from air-taxi operators, we will provide HondaJet in an eight seat “air taxi” configuration as well. The HondaJet also features the advanced GE-Honda HF-120 engine and also a true state-of-the-art Garmin avionics package.
Based on these specifications and functions, we believe HondaJet offers a new dimension of performance, comfort and quality. In this sense, we can not only compare HondaJet favorably to the very light jet market, but also to the light jet market as well.
After very thorough cost analysis, we finalized the price of the standard configuration of HondaJet you see here today, at $3.65 million dollars. We feel this combination of price, performance and function places HondaJet in a very strong and unique position in the market. We will be accessible to owner-operators and corporate charter customers as well as the growing air taxi market.
Just like I challenged for airplane design, we are now committed to creating an innovative sales and service network. Today, we are announcing that HondaJet will be sold through five regional sales groups in the U.S. divided by geographic area: HondaJet East, HondaJet Southeast, HondaJet Midwest, HondaJet Southwest, and HondaJet Northwest. Together, these groups will operate as many as 14 separate dealer facilities.
We believe this will result in a more personal level of sales, service and customer support. We will be working with our retail partners to ensure that every HondaJet customer receives unprecedented levels of customer service in the purchase and ownership of HondaJet. In support of this concept, we have also established a fleet sales group to offer better customized service for fleet operators such as air-charter, air-taxi, and fractional ownership. Fleet sales will be provided through direct sales by Honda Aircraft Company.
With regard to service, we are targeting a new level of convenience and customer support. This includes the establishment of dedicated service facilities within 90 minutes flight time from any location in the U.S. While we are still early in the development of this plan, we are fully committed to creating a truly first-class ownership experience from sales, service and support to pilot training.
Finally, we took another important step on October 11 … when Honda Aircraft Company submitted its application with the FAA for type-certification of HondaJet. As previously announced, we will produce HondaJet in the U.S. and have targeted delivery of the first jet in 2010.
I recall that it was 1986 when I attended NBAA for the first time. If my memory is correct, it was held in Anaheim, California. I was a young aerospace engineer just out of college. There is no such event as NBAA in Japan. So, I vividly remember that, when I entered into the exhibition center, I was struck by the gorgeous exhibits … and I was struck by the stunning business jets. From that time, it has been my dream to bring a jet I designed to this magnificent show.
Twenty years later, I am very proud to present to you the results of Honda’s dream to enter the aviation industry. Now, I will do my best to deliver an aircraft of outstanding performance and quality to all our customers.
Today, HondaJet sales truly take flight! Thank you very much.