A & S Interview: Michimasa Fujino
President and CEO, Honda Aircraft Company
- By Linda Shiner
- Air & Space magazine, May 2007
Tim Loerkhe/USA Today
(Page 3 of 6)
It was a good experience for me; there is so much diversity in America. I enjoyed the Mississippi State people; they are very friendly. And sometimes I went to Jackson or Atlanta, and that was a very good experience for me to see the difference between city America and country America.
A&S: What do you think was the biggest adjustment you had to make?
Fujino: There are many small things. The first obstacle for me was that I couldn’t understand Southern accent. If I went to a hotel, I couldn’t understand what those in the service industry said. So communication was very difficult for me. And also there are no Japanese there: so no Japanese food, no Japanese culture. So that was a little bit difficult. But at the same time, that was good for me—to explore American society.
At the time, from Columbus [near Mississippi State] to Atlanta and from Atlanta to other small cities, I have to change airplane at a major hub airport like Atlanta. So I began to understand that from small airport to small airport, transportation is very important. If I use a small airplane from small town to small town, it is very convenient and it saves a lot of time. That kind of image [would have been] difficult for me to understand if I lived in Japan. [There] I didn’t use a small airplane at all. Also the traffic control system is completely different. But in the United States, using a small airplane is not so unusual. I could understand the future potential of a small airplane in the United States, especially when many cities are distributed all over the nation.
Also, sometimes in the United States, even a small city has a business. In Japan, the many corporations concentrate in Tokyo. But in the United States sometimes many enterprises are distributed all over the nation. So transportation is very important.
Also I understand the individualism and independence of operations are very important in the United States. In Japan, when I worked in the automobile division, for the drawing we used a main frame, centralized computer. But when I came to the United States, even in Mississippi State, each student has a personal computer.
There is a lot of freedom and potential for even a small company or organization able to design an airplane. That is a very big difference from Japan.
A&S: Did the MH02 have its engine located over the wing?
Fujino: Yes. The first experimental aircraft design was for an Advanced Turboprop—ATP—with very small diameter. The design was based on the pusher configuration, so you may know that the engine is mounted on the wing in a pusher configuration. But during the development of the Advanced Turboprop design, the [ATP engine development program] was terminated. Finally I was asked to change the engine from the ATP to an existing fan engine by my management. So we finally decided to use an existing engine from Pratt & Whitney. I was looking for a position where I can install the engine on the airframe. I tried many configurations. At the time very small engines were not available, so we had to use a large engine, which was a little too big for the airplane. As a result, there were many geometrical contraints. So, at the end, there was only one place where we could install the engine: over the wing.
But that design gave me a lot of design inspiration for the HondaJet because some technical aspects are very similar. I developed many analytical methods to design this configuration from an aerodynamic, structural, and aeroelastic standpoint. With the MH02 experience, I started to explore new configurations for the HondaJet.