Honda announced today it will begin taking orders for a new, small jet aircraft later this year.
The HondaJet, unveiled last year, will enter the "very light jet" market in the United States, the company said.
Honda claims its microjet, as some call the class, will "achieve far better fuel efficiency, larger cabin and luggage space and higher cruise speed than conventional aircraft in its class," the company said in a statement.
The sleek jet has an an all-glass flight deck. An over-the-wing engine design maximizes space in the fuselage for passengers and luggage, the company said. The configuration is also said to reduce drag at high speed to improve fuel efficiency.
The prototype jet, which seats up to seven, has completed more than 240 hours of flight testing, flying to 43,000 feet and hitting 412 knots.
"Aviation has been an important dream of Honda for more than four decades," said Satoshi Toshida, senior managing director of Honda Motor Co., Ltd. "Our goal is consistent with the philosophy of other Honda products—to provide convenient and efficient transportation that will make people's lives better. We are excited now to enter a new dimension of mobility."
Honda will form a new U.S. company to deal with FAA regulations. It also plans to form an alliance with Piper Aircraft, Inc.
The plans were announced today at the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) AirVenture 2006, the world's largest annual aviation gathering in Oshkosh, Wis.
The move comes at a time when "microjets" increasingly are used to hop between regional airports in a market that industry officials expect to burgeon in coming years as the FAA sets up new rules that foster the approach.
"Piper is very excited about this alliance and the way it complements our vision for the future," said James K. Bass, president and CEO of Piper Aircraft.