On This Private Jet, You Could Be Assigned a Seat in the Loo
With a cool billion dollars in expenses and more than a decade of research and development under its wings, the compact HondaJet has finally begun making its way to customers.
I had a chance to check out the initial $4.5 million model at Farnborough roughly two years ago. At the time, it was the smallest corporate jet I had seen — it didn't feel all that more spacious than the Cessna 172 and Piper Warrior prop planes I've flown over the years, though a turbine-powered craft is an entirely different beast, of course.
Now, the original HondaJet has been replaced by the HondaJet Elite, a $5.25 million alternative, and the only model available to order going forward.
The Elite model was on hand at last week's NBAA event in Orlando, and sports reduced cabin noise, a belted seat in the lavatory (yikes!) and 265 more miles of range.
Upgrades bring the aircraft's total range to roughly 1,650 miles — enough to make it from Boston (BOS) to Dallas (DFW) without a stop.
Aside from extra flying time, the most valuable addition is the "belted lavatory" — as the name implies, a new seatbelt makes it possible for a fifth passenger to park themselves in the loo for taxi, takeoff and landing. Of course they'll need to swap seats whenever another passenger needs to "use" the restroom for anything other than an FAA-approved seat.
You can also have a passenger sit in the right seat up front — the HondaJet can be flown by two pilots, but it only requires one. Given a choice between the cockpit and the lavatory, it's pretty clear which one passengers would pick. There'd be an awful lot riding on that coin toss.
Honda Aircraft is also offering a "performance package" upgrade for the nearly 100 previous-generation HondaJets flying today, adding in some of the Elite's improvements, such as a shorter minimum takeoff length, slightly increased takeoff weight and software updates that enable advanced Take Off and Landing (TOLD) calculations, along with an improved electronic checklist. Those enhancements will run you a cool $250k, but could be worth the investment to some.
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