Once the master switch is on you simply press a button labelled START for the left-hand engine and another identical one for the right-hand engine. The starting procedure is automatic with the engines warming themselves up and settling down to an idle that you can’t even hear with noise-cancelling headsets in place. Finbow calls up a check list on his screen and scrolls through it, ticking off items via a toggle switch on his control column. No bulky manuals or multipage lists.
All systems checked and everything running sweetly, we taxi out to Hawarden’s runway. Hawarden, in Cheshire, is the Airbus factory where A380 wings are made. We’re taking a relatively short hop from here to Stansted airport and from there to Birmingham International. Finbow is doing the takeoff but I’m following through on the controls. The twin throttles are nudged forward to the take-off power setting and Finbow releases the brakes. Now we can hear some engine noise. The acceleration is impressive and at around 110kts we’re off the deck. ‘She’s yours,’ says Finbow, ‘climb us to 4,000ft.’
The piston-engined propellor aeroplane that I fly is fast and climbs at over 2,000ft a minute but the HondaJet is a real hot rod. At the maximum climb rate of 4,000ft per minute, the climb takes just a fraction more than a minute. The HondaJet’s ceiling is 43,000ft which puts it above airliners and above most weather. Since our flight will take no more than half an hour air traffic control tells us to climb to only 17,000ft.