HondaJet Elite: On the ramp
One look at the beauty sitting on the ramp and you can see this is no artisanal, half-baked and quarter-finished plane. The light composite fuselage is smooth like glass. It gets better upon closer inspection because the whole seemingly liquid confection looks like it was moulded from one bright block. It almost was. The top of the wing is milled from one 2,000-pound block of aluminium. One block, one wing. It partly explains why the wing is one continuous work of natural laminar flow art. It is a drop of molten metal fluidity, without so much of a hiccup, and it explains the high cruising speed and fuel efficiency. I ran my hand over parts of the plane and it never lost its stride.
Even the exhaust portion of the wing-mounted engines speaks of the attention to engineering and detail of the HondaJet team. There was no soot buildup. Warren Gould, Honda’s Chief Test Pilot sensed my surprise and explained in one word how the area stays clean and does not need attention. “Aerodynamics” he said simply. The exhaust air moves around so perfectly it does not soil the paint. I love Cessna Caravans, but I made a mental note to suggest that their team maybe rethink their exhaust system.
Pushing performance: when originally launched in 2018, the HondaJet Elite was sold alongside the original HA-420. However, it is now the only version in production.
This wing has one purpose and one purpose only – to fly and fly well. I’ll save you the suspense. It does the job incredibly well.
I was primed to turn left when climbing aboard the Elite, but a very nicely done little galley upfront and a quick glance to my right made me want to spend some time back there. There is a real lavatory, which is now belted for the extra passenger. I still don’t like the sink – it still reminds me of an eighties sitcom version of an opulent home – but the whole cabin is beautiful. The finish is superb and everything feels tight and without artifice. You don’t sink into the seats and they aren’t plush, yet they are more comfortable than most private jet seats. One huge advantage is that the toilet is externally-serviced. Both pilots and passengers will appreciate this big plane feature. The cabin design is clean and almost spartan. More like a teutonic high performance automobile than a flying recreation of your living room.