Others First With Wing Pylon Engines

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Although it's not a common arrangement, Honda was apparently a little hasty in suggesting its wing-pylon-mounted engines are groundbreaking. Michimasa Fujino, the chief engineer on the project, told the crowd at the aircraft's first public appearance at EAA AirVenture that conventional aerodynamic wisdom dictates engines should be mounted under the wings or on the fuselage. "It was believed you never put anything above the wing, but I was skeptical of that," he said. As always, when a tidbit of aviation lore goes astray, AVweb readers are quick to point it out, and we received several e-mails noting that pylon-mounted jets actually made it into production on a German design called the VFW614. A total of 19 of the small passenger jets were built in the early 1970s but most were bought back by the manufacturer, Vereinigte Flugtechnische Werke (VFW)-Fokker, in the late 1970s so it wouldn't have to continue supporting them. The Luftwaffe operated three until the early 1990s (the West German government funded most of the development costs of the airplane). But while Honda put the engines on the wings to make more room in the cabin, VFW-Fokker put them up there to allow for a short, sturdy undercarriage capable of using unimproved runways. Another reader also told us that NASA had looked at the setup in the 1970s but nothing got off the drawing board.