HondaJet makes its first flight in Japan as it nears full-scale production in the US

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RocketNews 24:

After several decades of research, development, and testing, the HondaJet is almost ready for delivery. But even though the business class jet, which the Japanese media has referred to as the “realization of the company founder’s dream,” is nearing certification through test flights in the United States, it hadn’t actually made an appearance in the skies of Japan…until this week!

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It was apparently the dream of Soichiro Honda, engineer and founder of Honda, to have his company produce a jet. In fact, it’s been over half a century since the founder proclaimed that the company was entering the aircraft business in 1962. The first significant steps in producing aircraft were taken in 1986, and since then, the company has spent countless hours on research, development, and design in the United States, where the HondaJet has been developed and will be manufactured, partly in conjunction with GE.

Though the jet has not yet finished certification, it has made numerous flights in the United States with potential customers and orders are already being accepted. Despite its airworthiness and the sort of high-tech features you’d expect from Honda, the HondaJet never actually flew in Japan until April 23, when it landed at Haneda Airport in Tokyo.

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The jet holds up to seven people and sells for 4.5 million dollars in the United States. It also apparently has 17 percent better fuel efficiency than most other jets in the same class, so just drop that little tidbit, if you’re having trouble justifying the cost to your spouse or board of directors! But you’ll have company if you decide to order now. Honda reports that it’s gotten over 100 orders between North America and Europe and it expects to start making deliveries in the US “soon.”

For those of you in Japan right now, you can catch the HondaJet on display at Sendai Airport, Kobe Airport, Kumamoto Airport, Okanan Airport (in Okayama), and Narita Airport in Tokyo on various dates over the next two weeks. You’ll be able to view the aircraft parked and catch some flight demonstrations as well.

If you’re ready to buy a HondaJet of your own, you can find a list of dealers here. Sadly, they only list North American and European locations, so if you want one in Japan, it looks like you’ll have to import it yourself!

Akira creator Katsuhiro Otomo’s sprawling mural will soon welcome travelers at Sendai Airport

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RocketNews 24:

Surely any list of Japan’s greatest animators and directors must include Katsuhiro Otomo, the man behind the likes of Akira, Domu, and Steamboy. Otomo’s distinctive mix of neo-futurism, cyberpunk, and dark humor has earned him both a legion of fans and numerous accolades throughout the world.

We mentioned in a previous article that Otomo would be designing a giant mural for Tohoku’s Sendai Airport. Now it looks like the wait is almost over. The 12-ton mural, which depicts a squat, bespectacled boy sitting astride a cybernetic carp flanked by the gods of wind and lightning, will be unveiled on March 12, one day after the fourth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Working off Otomo’s original illustration, CREARE Atami-Yugawara Studio fired 451 individual clay parts to produce the final product. At 2.8 meters high and 8.7 meters wide, the relief will no doubt make even the busiest traveller stop and marvel at its sheer size and artistry.

▼ A look at the design process

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▼ This thing really is quite spectacular

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Fans of Otomo’s work will recognize some of his visual motifs in the form of the cybernetic carp. Equally striking is the expression of defiance on the young rider’s face–a tribute to the people of Miyagi Prefecture, which suffered extensive damage in the 2011 tsunami and earthquake.

Regarding his motivations behind the project, Otomo was recently quoted as saying: “I hope it will spark children’s interest and serve as an opportunity for them to discuss the Great East Japan Earthquake and its aftermath with their parents.”

Travelers within Japan might soon be making a point of passing through Sendai Airport, if only to catch a glimpse of the impressive mural.