Is the HondaJet difficult to land?

The short answer: absolutely not!

In fact, when first teaching basic landing technique, I tell my students, landing the HondaJet is the “art of doing nothing.” Once stabilized on final, you simply fly the plane to the ground. There is no flare in a textbook landing. Pilots coming from planes that are a handful while approaching and in ground-effect are amazed at how simple it is to land.

If you follow the technique in the POM (see video below) and stay within the limits of the aircraft (20kt direct crosswind), the plane is a joy to land. I have never once felt out of control in the many hundreds of landings I have done from sea-level airports in the lighting capital of the world, AKA Central Florida, to the highest and most turbulent airport in the country – Telluride (photo above).

Here is a video to illustrate the point:

(please note: for some strange reason, I say “speed to zero” in this video, instead of “thrust to idle”. The technique is most certainly not speed to zero!)

Landing after the first leg of a TYPE RATING PREP session coming into KSEF.

What’s your HondaJet story?

The fist plane I ever flew was a Jet. In August of 2004, I did a one hour flight in an L-39 at Tropical Jet Fighters in Key Largo (they have since closed). Immediately after that incredible experience, I told my wife that I had to get my pilot’s license.

The day after hurricane Charlie ravaged Central Florida, I took my first student flight in a 172 from Air Orlando Flight Training at the Executive Airport. Six weeks later, I had my private; eight weeks after that, I had my instrument.

I spent the next 14 years enjoying the wonders of flight, building 900 hours flying multiple SR22s that I bought or leased over the years.

In 2017, I decided that it was finally time to fulfill the dream of owning a Jet. I took a serious look at the Vision Jet (I had position number 6) and the Eclipse. After really thinking about my long term needs, I decided to go up a class (or two). I looked at the M2, and flew the Phenom 100 which is a very nice aircraft. Then Mike O’keefe from Banyan called me to offer a flight in a HondaJet (which I did not even know existed). After .5 in that plane, my choice was made – no question about it.

I bought my first HondaJet in November of 2017 and immediately hired an instructor from Honda Aircraft. None of their regular instructors were available, so I got Mr. Fugino’s pilot, Tim Frazier. What a stroke of luck! I flew 50 hours with the most experienced HondaJet pilot in the world; and he wasn’t just an experienced pilot, he was a fabulous instructor. At the end of those 50 hours, according to Tim, I was more than ready for my Type Rating.

However, I was fully aware of the enormous leap I was making, so when Tim had to return to his regular duties, I hired Edward Covington, another fabulous instructor, for an additional 50 hours of flying before going to FlightSafety.

With 15 years of flying, 100 hours left-seat in-type experience, and exactly 1,000 logged hours, I qualified to take my HA-420 Type Rating as PIC. I have no doubt that the course and simulator would have absolutely devoured me if I did not take the time to get prepared. Instead, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience in which I was helping fellow classmates, retired airline pilots, learn the G3000. I learned so much from sitting beside those guys for 3 weeks. However, with 100 hours of experience with Honda’s implementation of the G3000, I was able to return the favor, at least in part.

Since my check-ride in March of 2018, I have attended 3 Upset Recognition and Recovery courses and aerobatic training in military training jets, added a 737 rating, and obtained my ATP. At over 1,000 hours flying the HondaJet, (2,000 total time) I am now one of the higher time in-type pilots in the world. I realize that is not saying much given that there are only a few hundred HondaJets in the world, but it sure feels good to say.

According to my friends in Greensboro, I believe I also have the distinction of having the most in-sim hours of any pilot that does not work for Honda Aircraft or FlightSafety. I attend FlightSafety at least 4 times a year. I do recurrents every 6 months and do free-style training in between my recurrents in which I train only advanced, difficult, and near impossible scenarios.

Over the years, I have mentored several people into aviation. In doing so, I discovered that I don’t just love to fly, I love to teach too. I am especially passionate about the fundamentals that are skipped by traditional training such as flight dynamics and energy management.

Do you like the HondaJet?

Like? No, I LOVE it! The HondaJet is a dream to fly. It is comfortable, quiet, fast, and incredibly well designed for Single Pilot operations.

I probably amaze experienced Jet pilots most with the fact that I almost never turn on an exterior light. The HondaJet is smart enough to know exactly when to turn on beacon, strobe, recognition, NAV, taxi, and landing lights. For a single pilot, that is a lot of steps/distractions eliminated from the routine.

The fit and finish is the best of all that I have seen. My passengers are always comfortable and amazed by the quiet cabin experience.

In flight, the Natural Laminar Flow wing and high load of the HondaJet wing design make for very smooth flight characteristics and excellent performance slicing through turbulence. What’s the trade off for having smaller, faster, smoother wings? Landing and take-off distances are a bit longer than lower-wing-load competitors. It is a trade off that I am very happy to make. I am always amazed when I hear an airline pilot behind me at FL350 asking for a different altitude because of turbulence. What turbulence?

How difficult is the Type Rating for Pilots stepping up to Jets?

In my opinion, the answer to this question depends on three primary factors: prior experience, attitude, and preparation.

Too often people equate total hours to skill level. Although there is correlation, quality of hours is more important than quantity. For example, the US Airforce puts a pilot in an F-18 after just a few hundred hours total time – that is high quality training. On the other hand, a pilot that flies with bad habits for thousands of hours is just reinforcing those bad habits. Likewise, a pilot that flies the same mission repeatedly (i.e. airline) is not necessarily prepared for the demands of single pilot operations. While they have a clear advantage with experience in the Flight Levels, they have auto-throttles and a first officer sharing a huge amount of the workload; take those two things away and things get pretty busy, fast!

Attitude plays an enormous part in the first-type-rating experience. For example, if a pilot with thousands of turboprop hours thinks that the HondaJet is small step up, they are likely to be disappointed and frustrated when they get in the simulator. A little humility goes a long way.

Which leads us to the last primary factor – preparation. If you buy your HondaJet with no prior Jet rating and just show up to FlightSafety, you are likely to be very disappointed. Instead, fly with a mentor in your plane before you attempt your first ever Jet Type Rating. Buy your plane, hire a mentor, and go fly it! Even if you hold prior type ratings, if they don’t include Garmin 3000, you should fly at least a couple hours before going to Greensboro.

You absolutely can make the jump – even from single engine prop – to a HondaJet with an appropriate amount of preparation. I know because I did exactly that – which you can read about here.

Here are my recommendations for the amount of hours you should spend flying your new airplane with a mentor prior to your Type Rating:

Prior Twin Engine Jet Type Rating with G3000 – none

Prior Twin Engine Jet Type Rating without G3000 – 2 hours

Significant and proficient twin engine turboprop experience – 5-10 hours

Significant and proficient single engine turboprop experience – 10-20 hours

Instrument Rated, Proficient Multi/Single Engine Prop experience – 25-50 hours