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Since it was certified by Transport Canada on June 7, 2017, Honda Aircraft Company’s first foray into the aviation world has attracted a lot of attention from potential Canadian buyers.
Its popularity is no surprise given the fact that worldwide, the HondaJet was the most-delivered jet in its category for the first half of 2017.
A total of 24 aircraft were delivered to customers during the first six months of this year, and the Greensboro, N.C.-based manufacturer is steadily ramping up production to meet demand. Currently, about four aircraft are built every month.
At the time of writing in late August 2017, a total of 53 jets had been delivered to customers in the U.S., Mexico and Europe.
Honda Aircraft bills its new offering as “the world’s most advanced light jet,” owing to its distinctive over-the-wing engine mount (OTWEM) configuration and sophisticated glass cockpit featuring a customized version of the Garmin G3000 avionics suite. The base cost of the jet is US$4.9 million.
In Canada, the HondaJet is sold and supported by Skyservice, which operates facilities in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Ottawa. Following Canadian certification, the company has increased its efforts to “build the buzz” about the new jet.
“Things have really picked up this year,” said Jeremi Austin, Skyservice aircraft sales executive for Central and Eastern Canada. “The timing of the certification with Transport Canada was good [and it has] certainly rekindled a lot of interest that was there previously.”
He said Skyservice has significantly ramped up its efforts to connect with potential HondaJet buyers from coast to coast.
“We’re getting great responses from all those we’re connecting with, and we’ve set up a number of visits and showings.”
A demo aircraft was recently displayed at the Canadian Business Aviation Association (CBAA) annual convention in Abbotsford, B.C., in early August. Austin said its appearance at the show allowed Skyservice to schedule a few demo stops on the way out to British Columbia.
He said one thing the sales team has noticed is that different regions have different reasons for being interested in the single pilot-certified HondaJet.
“The GTA [Greater Toronto Area] is a very densely populated area,” explained Austin. “It gives really easy access to Montreal, New York, Chicago, Atlanta. So with that big concentrated hub up there in the northeast, it’s a perfect machine for that.
“From a mission standpoint, if you’re going from Vancouver, it’s an L.A. commuter, no problem. If you’re working throughout the Prairies, and you’ve got difficult destinations to get to, you can get out and do three customer visits in a day and get home again without having to try to fight your way through regional airlines to get to remote locations. At the end of the day, it’s about shortening your time and getting there in increased comfort and getting home as quick as you can.”
The jet’s low operating costs are another reason buyers are looking carefully at the HondaJet. It is reportedly 17 per cent more efficient than other jets in its class. When cruising at 43,000 feet, fuel consumption is just 339 litres (89.5 gallons) per hour. In addition, Honda Aircraft offers affordable and comprehensive airframe and engine maintenance.
First C-registered jet
Austin said the first Canadian-registered HondaJet will be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2017 to a buyer in Western Canada.
“That’s the first one,” he continued. “And then, obviously, there will be more to follow over in the East, as well.”
Skyservice expects to see sales trending positively over the next couple of years.
“The activity that we’ve seen in the market overall has been that things are increasing and have been fairly dramatically,” noted Austin. “There is a wide, wide range of people, from private owners to corporate flight departments, that have an interest in the aircraft.”
Austin, who came to Skyservice from another aircraft manufacturer, said he’s excited about the chance to introduce Canadian buyers to a “superior product that stands alone in its class.”