HondaJet’s Inspirational Journey
December 2015 will remain etched in the memories of HondaJet’s employees as the company achieved a monumental milestone with the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) type certification. Honda Aircraft can now start delivering its first product, the HA-420 light jet to customers. In April 2015, the HondaJet made its public debut in , with flight demonstrations and static displays. Now this light business jet is all set to take the aviation world by storm.
The design and making of the HondaJet is truly an inspirational journey. The story begins in 1986 when Honda launched a series of secret R&D projects and Mr. Michimasa Fujino was transferred to Honda’s aircraft research project in State University. For this young aeronautical engineer, it was his first hands-on experience working on a real airplane. Though the team toiled for 10 years, they could not come up with any breakthrough technology that could add value to the aviation industry. So Honda decided to scrap the project and in 1996, Fujino and his colleagues were sent back to . But Fujino did not give up on his dream of designing a plane that was fast and fuel-efficient without sacrificing cabin and luggage space.
The turning point came in 1997 when Fujino was unpacking after moving to a new home in Japan. He came across a 1930’s aeronautics textbook by Ludwig Prandtl, a German Engineer whose analysis built the foundation for modern aerodynamics. As he turned the pages of the book, Fujino was reminded that in an age where computers were not made, complex theoretical functions and mathematics was used to analyze aerodynamic flow. Not long after this, Fujino found himself waking up one night with a new design concept. Since he could not find paper nearby, he tore off a piece of calendar and sketched the design on it. When he showed this design to his team in , the first word that they had for the sketch was that it was ugly. But he managed to convince the Board of Directors on the working of the design and the project took off. It took almost another decade before Honda Aircraft headquarters was established in , NC.
Another interesting tidbit shared by Michimasa Fujino is that the design of the HondaJet was inspired by a woman’s shoe. The nose design of the jet was inspired by a pair of Salvatore Ferragamo high heels that he noticed in a duty free shop in . The designer footwear represented beauty, comfort and functionality and he was inspired by it. Though the journey was not easy, Michimasa Fujino kept himself motivated by telling himself to try a little longer when he wanted to give up. As Ralph Waldo Emerson rightly said “When you follow the dream in your heart, you’re energized, inspired, and motivated.”