Honda Aviation Company is elevating the light jet to new heights—literally.
The company, a subsidiary of the Japanese auto giant, debuted a new aircraft called the HondaJet 2600 Concept at the National Business Aviation Association’s BACE in Las Vegas on Tuesday. Although only a prototype, Honda says the aircraft will be able to fly across the entirety of the US at heights never before reached by a light jet.
The company is touting three major advances with the HondaJet2600: an over-the-wing engine mount configuration, a carbon composite fuselage and improved Natural Laminar Flow technology on its nose and wings. Thanks to these features it will have a range of 2,625 nautical miles (3,020 miles), making it the first light jet capable of nonstop transcontinental flight across the US, according to a press release. It will also reach a maximum cruising speed of 450 knots and an industry-leading flight ceiling of 47,000 feet (or about 8.9 miles above the surface of the Earth). Not bad for an aircraft that will also be 20 percent more efficient and release less carbon emissions than the average light jet.
Inside, you’ll find one of three new modular layouts. This flexibility will allow for up to 11 passengers, though you’ll want to limit your load to five people if you want to keep the plane at its most efficient. The cockpit will be equipped with advanced flight tech and electronics, including autothrottle and autobrake. These systems help make the plane easier to fly, making it the first transcontinental jet that can be operated by a single pilot.
“This concept involved a total redesign of the entire cabin,” Adam Gagnon, senior director of marketing at Honda Aircraft, told Robb Report during a tour of the mockup at NBAA. “Headroom is 4.5 inches taller and the cabin’s an inch wider than the 420. All the little touches add up to a different kind of experience.”
That different experience includes the all-new seats, a more ergonomic design than the last generation, with 180-degree swivel possibilities and footrests for reclining. The rear of the aircraft can be fitted with a bed, using footrests between seats and a lightweight mattress. The new aircraft also has a full-height galley in front, and underside of the fuselage has a massive cargo hold, thanks to the engines being positioned on the wings.
“The HondaJet 2600 Concept, which enables efficient transcontinental flight, offers new level of cabin comfort and capacity, and dramatically reduces CO2 emissions, we are introducing a new generation of business jets,” Honda Aircraft CEO Michimasa Fujino said in a statement.
As exciting as the HondaJet 2600 may sound, it’s just a concept at this stage. Similar to the more futuristic prototypes shown off by its parent company, there are no plans to put the jet into production as of now. That said, don’t be surprised if some of its more intriguing ideas, especially the new engine configuration, make their way into the company’s future aircraft.
After all, the timing couldn’t be better. Demand for private jets is at “historical” levels right now, with sales having increased by 30 percent. Not a bad moment for fuel-efficient light jets with long range to enter the market.