The Japanese auto giant has been quietly researching small jets since the late 1980s, debuting the HondaJet as a multimillion-dollar experiment over a decade ago in 2003. The six-passenger bullet cruises at 420 knots — about 0.63 Mach — and gets power from a pair of specially designed turbofans developed through a joint venture with General Electric.
HondaJet comes with unique engine mount that gives the plane its trademark appearance. Where most jets of this size have engines mounted on either side of the rear of the fuselage, the HondaJet’s HF120 turbofans rest on pedestals that rise from the wings. The advantage, Honda notes, is that the configuration frees up significant additional space inside the cabin. As a bonus, it also just looks downright sci-fi.
Honda just announced this week that the first production HondaJet is now in final assembly. The road to this point hasn’t been an easy one — the high-tech transport has been beset with delays, most recently due to an engine failure during testing — but the company says it’s tracking for FAA certification in the first quarter of 2015.
HondaJet will cose $4.5 million when it goes on sale.