HondaJet Goes Legit

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Breaking its long silence about its clandestine jet program, Honda Motor Co. on Tuesday announced a flight-test schedule for its new composite-structure six-seater, but stopped short of saying it will develop the airplane for the commercial market. After all, why would the market want Honda's HF118 engines that are 40 percent more efficient than conventional engines, according to Honda, and mounted on wing pylons? The design also incorporates a laminar-flow forward fuselage/cockpit section that reduces drag at high speeds, and increases cruising efficiency. Plus, the unconventional configuration also eliminates the need for structural engine mounts in the fuselage, which affords 30 percent more cabin space compared to similarly proportioned aircraft. The aircraft has already flown at its North Carolina base. Honda plans 200 hours of flight testing.