NOTE: The below originally appeared as the editorial in our December 31 One Minute Week newsletter. To find out more, and sign up for free, please click here.
On Christmas eve, many of us with younger family members would have kept a close eye on the NORAD Santa Tracker. But whilst most of us had to wait until the next morning to open our presents, for the owners of the first HondaJet and Legacy 450, Christmas came a little bit early this year.
Both Embraer and Honda will be relieved to see the first aircraft leave the factory in the week leading up to Christmas. Both aircraft should, according to their originally announced delivery schedules, have had their first deliveries a long time ago.
For the Legacy 450, the entry into service date target was the second quarter of 2013. This was later revised due to an issue with the software that supports the fly-by-wire technology that is used on both the Legacy 450, and its bigger brother the Legacy 500. A further delay of another six months was announced later.
Whilst the delivery of the first Legacy 450 is important, it is hard to convey just how significant the delivery of the first HondaJet is.
Much has been written about the HondaJet story recently, both in the trade and mainstream press. It is a story that goes back 30 years, to when Honda Aircraft president and CEO Michimasa Fujino first took pen to paper to sketch out his ideas for the aircraft.
To get this far has taken a monumental feat of patience for Fujino. Although the aircraft was originally conceived as a flying testbed for Honda’s own small turbofan engine, the company’s board approved the commercialization of the aircraft in 2006. Three years after the aircraft took to the skies for the first time.
The aircraft will however enter a market that has struggled to recover from the 2008 financial crisis. Understandably the company won’t be drawn on how many orders the aircraft has, although they did say that they received 100 orders in the first three days of offering the aircraft for sale.
A clue to the order numbers could be in the announced delivery schedules. Fujino said that Honda would deliver 50 aircraft in the year following the initial delivery, and a further 80 aircraft the year after. In early December there were 25 aircraft in various stages of production.
Whether the aircraft can breathe new life into the Light Jet segment remains still remains to be seen. But whilst we can’t be sure if there aircraft will stimulate the market, there is one thing that we can be sure of; this was probably Fujino’s happiest Christmas ever.
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