Michimasa Fujino’s dream of seeing the HondaJet in Japan has just moved one step closer
From the moment he first started sketching out his HondaJet, Honda Aircraft Company CEO and president Michimasa Fujino set himself the goal of seeing the aircraft flying in his home country of Japan.
But there was a problem. Not with the aircraft for, as Fujino says, the HondaJet is very much an aircraft to the Japanese taste. But the business aviation market in Japan is still very much in its infancy, with a lack of infrastructure to support large-scale operations. Because of this, smaller privately-owned aircraft have yet to penetrate the market, as those who do own business aircraft have tended to prefer large-cabin, long-range jets.
That is not to say that smaller aircraft do not operate within the country. They do. However, they are mostly operated by either the JASDF (Japan Air Self-Defence Force) or the JCAB (Japanese Civil Aviation Bureau).
There have in the past few years been announcements of business jet divisions by both of the major airlines in Japan. The first of these was by Japan Airline (JAL), although the tie-up with Dassault Flight Services will see the French operator offering onward connections from Paris on the company’s Dassault Falcon business jets.
Not to be outdone, All Nippon Airways (ANA) announced an agreement with Honda towards the end of 2017 that will see several HondaJet private jets based initially in Chicago and Los Angeles to connect with the airline’s flights from Tokyo.
Speaking to CJI in October 2017, Mr. Fujino said that he really wanted to see the HondaJet operating in Japan as soon as possible, later adding that he would like to see this happen before the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
“I’m Japanese and I think this is a more Japanese-taste designed aircraft, so I really want to introduce it into the Japanese market as soon as possible.”
That dream took one step forward this week as Honda Aircraft formed a partnership with locally based trading company Marubeni Corp to market and sell the HondaJet in Japan.
Under the agreement, Marubeni’s aerospace division Marubeni Aerospace, will operate as HondaJet Japan and be responsible for all sales, service and maintenance of HondaJets in the region.
Based in Tokyo, Marubeni Aerospace has a long history of aircraft sales in Japan as well as of aircraft, helicopter and engine maintenance.
Honda Aircraft’s move into the Japanese market comes shortly after the introduction of the HondaJet Elite variant. That aircraft debuted at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) towards the end of May and ups the range of the original HondaJet by just over 17%.
As well as an increase in range, the new variant includes redesigned engine inlets that help reduce the engine noise inside and outside the aircraft cabin, as well as a speaker-less sound system that resonates through the interior.
Honda says it has already submitted the HondaJet Elite for type certification by the JCAB and is hoping to deliver the first aircraft before the end of summer 2019.