New Jet From Honda Could Be A Controversial Game Changer
In the grand scheme of things, it will surprise no one that Honda Aircraft has unveiled a concept for a bigger, faster and longer-range model, which the company calls the HondaJet 2600 Concept. Plane & Pilot was the first to fly the original HondaJet when it debuted five years ago, and our visits to the company’s Greensboro, North Carolina, factory revealed a facility that seems built for a much bigger lineup than one light jet. Well, in concept, there is now another.
Again, the 2600 is just a concept, and as such Honda Aircraft is presenting what we take to be rough targets for the planes specification goals as it reaches out to potential customers to gather feedback and hone the design.
For now, the plane is pegged as an 11-seater, which would normally mean 2 pilots and up to 9 passengers. But not with the 2600, if Honda has its way. The company envisions a single-pilot certification for it, which if it gets approved as such (and we’re a long way from that point) would make it the largest business jet we know of to earn such. This would make it a one pilot, 10 passenger jet, with one of those passengers sharing the flight deck, of course. Single-pilot commercial approval would mean markedly lower operating costs for business and other operators, it should go without saying, and the airlines will be watching this one closely to see how a single-pilot future might go.
The 2600 would also boast some eye-opening technological features, especially for an aircraft this size, including a number of unspecified electrical and automated systems, including autothrottle and autobrake, among others. Both of those things, of course are necessary for the installation of a utility such as Garmin’s Autoland, which today is only approved for emergency use, so it would be speculation for us to suggest that the future might hold a larger, single-pilot HondaJet with a non-emergency version of autoland, so we won’t engage in any such speculation.
As ambitious as it sounds, Honda’s achievement with its first jet was remarkable. It was and remains the lowest pilot workload jet I have ever flown, so I have little doubt Honda can pull it off with a larger jet, though I’m less certain how the FAA (or other regulators for that matter) will view the application for single pilot status for such a capable aircraft.
Regardless, it would be a big step up from the seven-seat HondaJet, which has been a great seller for the company, with more than 170 aircraft delivered, though 2020, that is, and that number should hit close to the 200 mark by the end of this year.
It will also be a step up in capability, with a targeted 450-knot cruise speed and a range of 2,625 nm and a ceiling of 47,000 feet, which would be very high flying for a small-midsized jet. A close competitor would be Textron Aviation’s Citation XLS Pus, which has the same seating capacity, a cruise speed of 440 knots and a range of 2,100 nm. So, the 2600 would be stiff competition based solely on Honda Aircraft’s hoped-for capabilities for the model, though Cessna’s world-class service center network and the long term success of the product would be tough to face off against.
Honda is not saying how much the 2600 would sell for, but the XLS Plus goes for around $13 million.
Company today unveiled the “HondaJet 2600 Concept”, at a special event hosted by Honda Aircraft Company at the 2021 NBAA Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (NBAA-BACE). Presented as the next generation of business jet, Honda Aircraft displayed a mockup of the HondaJet 2600 Concept to collect customer feedback and validate market demand.