Finance I flew on Honda's new $4.9 million private jet, and it's an absolute game-changer

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The $4.9 million HondaJet is an advanced private jet for everyday life. And no, it doesn't have VTEC.

HondaJet and me! play

HondaJet and me!

(Benjamin Zhang)

  • The HondaJet entered production in 2015.
  • The jet has a range of about 1,400 miles with four passengers and can go from Boston to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in less than three hours.
  • I took a ride in the $4.9 million HondaJet and was impressed by how smooth the flight was and how open the cabin felt.


Honda is known for its engineering excellence. It's also a company willing to take its time to get things right. For example, Honda famously spent a decade perfecting its second-generation NSX supercar, Business Insider's 2016 Car of the Year.

Naturally, we weren't shocked to learn that the company spent 30 years getting its first private jet off the ground. In 1986, Honda's aviation team — led by a young aeronautical engineer named Michimasa Fujino — began work on the company's ambitious foray into the aerospace industry. It was one of the final major projects greenlit by Soichiro Honda, the aviation enthusiast who founded the company, before his death in 1991.

In 2006, the Honda Aircraft Corporation was formed, with Fujino as its CEO, to develop, build, and sell the $4.5 million HondaJet.

"The power of dreams is both the force and the philosophy that guide us at Honda," Fujino wrote on the company's website. "Now, Honda proudly brings you to the pinnacle of engineering performance — the HondaJet."

He called it "the world's most advanced light business jet."

In the fall of 2017, Business Insider had the opportunity to take a test flight on board one of Honda's demonstrators at Morristown Airport in New Jersey.

Here's a closer look at our test flight.

A previous version of this story quoted a base price of $4.5 million. Honda has since updated that figure to $4.9 million.

We arrived at Morristown Airport on a sunny autumn morning. Sitting on the airport's tarmac, just feet away from President Donald Trump's personal helicopter, was a bright red HondaJet.

We arrived at Morristown Airport on a sunny autumn morning. Sitting on the airport's tarmac, just feet away from President Donald Trump's personal helicopter, was a bright red HondaJet. play

We arrived at Morristown Airport on a sunny autumn morning. Sitting on the airport's tarmac, just feet away from President Donald Trump's personal helicopter, was a bright red HondaJet.

(Hollis Johnson)


Overall, the HondaJet is 43 feet long and 15 feet tall with a 40-foot wingspan. The HondaJet is a small business jet whose rivals include ...

Overall, the HondaJet is 43 feet long and 15 feet tall with a 40-foot wingspan. The HondaJet is a small business jet whose rivals include ... play

Overall, the HondaJet is 43 feet long and 15 feet tall with a 40-foot wingspan. The HondaJet is a small business jet whose rivals include ...

(Hollis Johnson)


... the Cessna Citation M2 and the Embraer Phenom 100.

The Cessna Citation M2. play

The Cessna Citation M2.

(Textron)


The jet is produced at Honda Aircraft's headquarters in Greensboro, North Carolina.

The jet is produced at Honda Aircraft's headquarters in Greensboro, North Carolina. play

The jet is produced at Honda Aircraft's headquarters in Greensboro, North Carolina.

(Honda)


Immediately, you'll notice the HondaJet doesn't look like your run-of-the-mill private jet. Honda is particularly proud of its nose and wing designs that contribute to the plane's performance.

Immediately, you'll notice the HondaJet doesn't look like your run-of-the-mill private jet. Honda is particularly proud of its nose and wing designs that contribute to the plane's performance. play

Immediately, you'll notice the HondaJet doesn't look like your run-of-the-mill private jet. Honda is particularly proud of its nose and wing designs that contribute to the plane's performance.

(Hollis Johnson)


According to Fujino, the nose of the plane was inspired by a pair of Salvatore Ferragamo high heels he encountered at a duty-free shop while on vacation in Hawaii.

According to Fujino, the nose of the plane was inspired by a pair of Salvatore Ferragamo high heels he encountered at a duty-free shop while on vacation in Hawaii. play

According to Fujino, the nose of the plane was inspired by a pair of Salvatore Ferragamo high heels he encountered at a duty-free shop while on vacation in Hawaii.

(Hollis Johnson)


And then there are the engines. The General Electric/Honda HF120 turbofan engines are each capable of producing 2,050 pounds of thrust.

And then there are the engines. The General Electric/Honda HF120 turbofan engines are each capable of producing 2,050 pounds of thrust. play

And then there are the engines. The General Electric/Honda HF120 turbofan engines are each capable of producing 2,050 pounds of thrust.

(Hollis Johnson)


And no, it doesn't have VTEC.

And no, it doesn't have VTEC. play

And no, it doesn't have VTEC.

(Hollis Johnson)

VTEC, Honda's world-famous Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control system, is found in many of its car engines. The system, which allows the engine to be fuel-efficient at low RPMs while delivering an extra jolt of power at high RPMs, has become a pop-culture icon among car enthusiasts.



What makes the HondaJet's engines special is where the company decided to mount them.

What makes the HondaJet's engines special is where the company decided to mount them. play

What makes the HondaJet's engines special is where the company decided to mount them.

(Hollis Johnson)


Instead of on the main fuselage, the HondaJet's engines are on pylons above each wing.

Instead of on the main fuselage, the HondaJet's engines are on pylons above each wing. play

Instead of on the main fuselage, the HondaJet's engines are on pylons above each wing.

(Hollis Johnson)


According to Honda, this increases the Honda's cargo capacity while reducing cabin noise by isolating the engines away from the fuselage.

According to Honda, this increases the Honda's cargo capacity while reducing cabin noise by isolating the engines away from the fuselage. play

According to Honda, this increases the Honda's cargo capacity while reducing cabin noise by isolating the engines away from the fuselage.

(Hollis Johnson)


While the cabin is made of a carbon-reinforced plastic composite, the composite fuselage is designed to be lighter and stronger than those with a traditional aluminum construction.

While the cabin is made of a carbon-reinforced plastic composite, the composite fuselage is designed to be lighter and stronger than those with a traditional aluminum construction. play

While the cabin is made of a carbon-reinforced plastic composite, the composite fuselage is designed to be lighter and stronger than those with a traditional aluminum construction.

(Hollis Johnson)


Speaking of cargo, the HondaJet has a "trunk" in the back ...

Speaking of cargo, the HondaJet has a "trunk" in the back ... play

Speaking of cargo, the HondaJet has a "trunk" in the back ...

(Hollis Johnson)


... and a "frunk" in the nose. Together, the cargo compartments can hold 66 cubic feet of stuff.

... and a "frunk" in the nose. Together, the cargo compartments can hold 66 cubic feet of stuff. play

... and a "frunk" in the nose. Together, the cargo compartments can hold 66 cubic feet of stuff.

(Hollis Johnson)


Time to take a look inside the plane.

Time to take a look inside the plane. play

Time to take a look inside the plane.

(Hollis Johnson)


Inside, the cabin is 17.8 feet long, 5 feet wide, and 4.8 feet tall. As a result, most adults won't be able to stand up in there.

Inside, the cabin is 17.8 feet long, 5 feet wide, and 4.8 feet tall. As a result, most adults won't be able to stand up in there. play

Inside, the cabin is 17.8 feet long, 5 feet wide, and 4.8 feet tall. As a result, most adults won't be able to stand up in there.

(Hollis Johnson)


The HondaJet can seat four passengers comfortably.

The HondaJet can seat four passengers comfortably. play

The HondaJet can seat four passengers comfortably.

(Hollis Johnson)


However, that number can go up to six if someone sits in the jump seat by the door and someone else sits in the copilot's seat.

However, that number can go up to six if someone sits in the jump seat by the door and someone else sits in the copilot's seat. play

However, that number can go up to six if someone sits in the jump seat by the door and someone else sits in the copilot's seat.

(Hollis Johnson)


That's because the HondaJet is capable of single-pilot operation — a major selling point for private-jet owners who want to fly themselves around. No need to hire a copilot.

That's because the HondaJet is capable of single-pilot operation — a major selling point for private-jet owners who want to fly themselves around. No need to hire a copilot. play

That's because the HondaJet is capable of single-pilot operation — a major selling point for private-jet owners who want to fly themselves around. No need to hire a copilot.

(Hollis Johnson)


Behind the passenger cabin is a private bathroom with a sink ...

Behind the passenger cabin is a private bathroom with a sink ... play

Behind the passenger cabin is a private bathroom with a sink ...

(Hollis Johnson)


... and a toilet.

... and a toilet. play

... and a toilet.

(Hollis Johnson)


There's even a skylight in the bathroom ceiling.

There's even a skylight in the bathroom ceiling. play

There's even a skylight in the bathroom ceiling.

(Hollis Johnson)


So what is it like to be a passenger on the HondaJet? It's pretty freaking cool.

play

(Benjamin Zhang)


First, the HondaJet is a bit of a hot rod. Even with four passengers, bags, and camera equipment, the little jet needed less than half of the runway's 6,000 feet to take off. The Honda climbs at 3,990 feet a minute.

First, the HondaJet is a bit of a hot rod. Even with four passengers, bags, and camera equipment, the little jet needed less than half of the runway's 6,000 feet to take off. The Honda climbs at 3,990 feet a minute. play

First, the HondaJet is a bit of a hot rod. Even with four passengers, bags, and camera equipment, the little jet needed less than half of the runway's 6,000 feet to take off. The Honda climbs at 3,990 feet a minute.

(Hollis Johnson)


While not as quiet and refined as the bigger and more expensive $20 million Embraer Legacy 500 we recently flew in, the $4.9 million HondaJet is peaceful enough to carry on a conversation without the need to raise your voice.

While not as quiet and refined as the bigger and more expensive $20 million Embraer Legacy 500 we recently flew in, the $4.9 million HondaJet is peaceful enough to carry on a conversation without the need to raise your voice. play

While not as quiet and refined as the bigger and more expensive $20 million Embraer Legacy 500 we recently flew in, the $4.9 million HondaJet is peaceful enough to carry on a conversation without the need to raise your voice.

(Hollis Johnson)


With the large windows, the HondaJet felt open and airy.

With the large windows, the HondaJet felt open and airy. play

With the large windows, the HondaJet felt open and airy.

(Hollis Johnson)


The HondaJet's seats feature an innovative floating-ball-joint system that allows it to be infinitely adjustable.

The HondaJet's seats feature an innovative floating-ball-joint system that allows it to be infinitely adjustable. play

The HondaJet's seats feature an innovative floating-ball-joint system that allows it to be infinitely adjustable.

(Hollis Johnson)


Additionally, the HondaJet is available with WiFi and a touchscreen cabin-control system.

Additionally, the HondaJet is available with WiFi and a touchscreen cabin-control system. play

Additionally, the HondaJet is available with WiFi and a touchscreen cabin-control system.

(Hollis Johnson)


In the cockpit, the HondaJet is equipped with a fully integrated Garmin 3000 avionics suite.

In the cockpit, the HondaJet is equipped with a fully integrated Garmin 3000 avionics suite. play

In the cockpit, the HondaJet is equipped with a fully integrated Garmin 3000 avionics suite.

(Hollis Johnson)


The system features three large 14-inch high-definition touchscreens.

The system features three large 14-inch high-definition touchscreens. play

The system features three large 14-inch high-definition touchscreens.

(Hollis Johnson)


And flight systems are neatly and intuitively organized on smaller secondary touchscreens.

And flight systems are neatly and intuitively organized on smaller secondary touchscreens. play

And flight systems are neatly and intuitively organized on smaller secondary touchscreens.

(Hollis Johnson)


A veteran pilot and HondaJet representative we spoke with claimed that he could teach any novice how to use the plane's flight systems in less than five minutes.

A veteran pilot and HondaJet representative we spoke with claimed that he could teach any novice how to use the plane's flight systems in less than five minutes. play

A veteran pilot and HondaJet representative we spoke with claimed that he could teach any novice how to use the plane's flight systems in less than five minutes.

(Hollis Johnson)


As advanced as the HondaJet may be, some aspects are decidedly old-school. Unlike many next-generation jets, the Honda features a physical control system rather than fly-by-wire technology.

As advanced as the HondaJet may be, some aspects are decidedly old-school. Unlike many next-generation jets, the Honda features a physical control system rather than fly-by-wire technology. play

As advanced as the HondaJet may be, some aspects are decidedly old-school. Unlike many next-generation jets, the Honda features a physical control system rather than fly-by-wire technology.

(Hollis Johnson)


The HondaJet can also cruise at 485 mph at 30,000 feet, but it can go as high as 43,000 feet, meaning it's flying above the weather and most commercial traffic.

The HondaJet can also cruise at 485 mph at 30,000 feet, but it can go as high as 43,000 feet, meaning it's flying above the weather and most commercial traffic. play

The HondaJet can also cruise at 485 mph at 30,000 feet, but it can go as high as 43,000 feet, meaning it's flying above the weather and most commercial traffic.

(Hollis Johnson)


According to Honda, its first jet has a range of about 1,400 miles with four passengers. Even with a serious headwind, the HondaJet can do Boston to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in less than three hours. With four passengers, the planes can reach virtually any point on the East Coast and much of the Midwest.

According to Honda, its first jet has a range of about 1,400 miles with four passengers. Even with a serious headwind, the HondaJet can do Boston to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in less than three hours. With four passengers, the planes can reach virtually any point on the East Coast and much of the Midwest. play

According to Honda, its first jet has a range of about 1,400 miles with four passengers. Even with a serious headwind, the HondaJet can do Boston to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in less than three hours. With four passengers, the planes can reach virtually any point on the East Coast and much of the Midwest.

(Hollis Johnson)


The HondaJet officially entered production in 2015. The company is delivering about a plane a week to customers. But if you want one, you'll have to get in line — Honda has a backlog that runs into late 2018.

The HondaJet officially entered production in 2015. The company is delivering about a plane a week to customers. But if you want one, you'll have to get in line — Honda has a backlog that runs into late 2018. play

The HondaJet officially entered production in 2015. The company is delivering about a plane a week to customers. But if you want one, you'll have to get in line — Honda has a backlog that runs into late 2018.

(Hollis Johnson)


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