• Flight News On Embraer Phenom 100 First Appearance In South Africa At AAD 201 sHOW In Cape Town

    More air news on aircrafts for October 2010 which informs the travelers and operators on new developments in the aviation industry.

    This is the Embraer Phenom 100.It is pretty, isn't it? I assure you it flies even better than it looks. Under the surface this small business jet has huge sophistication while retaining enough simplicity for effortless single pilot operation. It is a delight to fly and a pleasure for the passengers.

    Before you say, "But I cant afford it" and turn the page, just stand back and look at some numbers.The Phenom 100 handles and performs like a big jet, but it only costs turboprop money to run.

    Yes, a Phenom 100 costs us$ 3-6 million, but thinks about that. Between ten partners, that is just $ 360,000 apiece. You can not get a Cessna 172 for that today! Fractional ownership is the 21st century way to go. For $ 360,000 outlay, this is a lot of aero plane.

    Sometimes referred to by Embraer as "Very Light Jet", this, the smallest among the company's range of executive jets, carries six to seven people and is significantly faster and appreciably roomier than its obvious VLJ competitors, the Eclipse 500,CitationJet and Mustang.

    Built, not by a mere light plane-maker or a pop-up designer, but by a major manufacturer of airliners (Indeed, Embraer is the worlds third largest), the Phenom 100s apparently simple systems are undemanding and informative to observe and yet natural to operate.

    Such apparent simplicity is the result of advanced complexity under the surface, a by-product of Embraers wide airliner experience.

    This background also ensures the Phenom is designed for high utilization. It has a 35000 cycle airframe fatigue life which is more than double that of other entry level jets.

    The Phenom 100 is not the terminally redeveloped offspring of some ancient airframe, but a state of the art, clean-sheet design and, again thanks to that background foundation in big international airliners, this littlest big Embraer jet was brought from project launch to successful certification in a mere 3,5 years.

    Compare that with the protracted, two decade-plus gestation of the Sino-Swearlingen SJ 30.Embraer knows what it is doing, it gets on with it, and I am convinced it has produced a winner. Furthermore, the production Phenom 100 has either met or exceeded all design performance parameters. How many manufacturers can say that?

    All this refinement means that this substantial small jet is very easy for a reasonably accomplished piston pilot to fly and operate single-handed. This is by far the easiest and, at the same time, the most sophisticated jet I have ever flown.Yes, it is simultaneously both those things, and a lot more aero plane than any other VLJ costing similar money.

    The Aircraft

    I was introduced to brand new phenom serial number 005 at Embraers Sao Jose dos Campos flight test headquarters by Embraers most hospitable press office, Daniel Bachmann, and Captain Berto.

    The glossy, long-nosed phenom stands surprisingly tall on the tarmac for a light jet. It may be fun to fly, but this is clearly no pricey toy, its presence and solidity belie its mere three tone empty mass. Its structure is mostly conventional riveted aluminium, although Embraer is keen to emphasize its increasing use of composites.

    Like all its contemporaries, the phenom has a tapered ,very slightly swept wing to give it excellent handling over the broadest possible speed range .Wing fences and a dorsal fin were added during development to give it the broad speed band from stall to a maximum TAS of 390 knots(Mach 0,70) in the cruise.

    The trailing edge carries manual ailerons with mass- and aerodynamic balances and wide span flags. Refueling is through simple over wing fillers with lockable caps, and maximum usable fuel is 1272 kilograms.

    The trailing-link main gear legs almost guarantee soft landings. They retract inboard hydraulically, and have single wheels with (alone among the VLJs) lightweight brake-by-wire carbon disc brakes, featuring anti-skid as standard. The main legs have integral doors, but the wheels remain uncovered when retracted. The steerable, long-travel oleo nose leg carries a single wheel and retracts forwards to be covered by twin doors.

    A tall fin and rudder carry a T-tail with large control surfaces and big tabs. Since the Phenom 100 is, of course, certified for flight in known icing conditions, its wing and tail plane de-ice are both by silver coloured flexible pneumatic boots, although neither the ventral nor dorsal fins need de-icing.

    The gleaming, compact, and almost miniature podded turbofans high on the aft fuselage were developed by Pratt & Whitney Canada specifically for this airframe. They are PW617Ts, each flat-rated at 7, 18 KN or 1615 Ib static thrust at 10 degrees centigrade, and each has dual FADEC systems. Before series production, the engines' oil sight gauge panels were lowered for easier access, so that pilots can complete their walk rounds without steps.

    These small fans give the Phenom 100 low take-off, sideline and approach noise levels of just 70,4,81,4 and 86,1 EPNdB respectively. These give it a 33 EPNdB margin to the ICAO Stage 1V limit.

    The rear (heated but unpressurized) luggage area is accessed through a hatch below the left engine's jet pipe, and its 1, 5 cubic metre capacity carries up to 160 kilograms. On the left side of the nose, opposite the hydraulics bay, there is a smaller, 0, 19 cubic metre compartment, with space for further 30 kilos of bags.

    The air conditioning system uses a vapour cycle machine and has two temperature zones, so that the pilots can select their own cockpit temperature separately from the passengers' cabin. With the optional VIP panel the passengers can even control their temperature from within the cabin.

    Despite the fuselages height off the ground, entering the aero plane is simple, thanks to a1, 47-metre-high, light and easy-opening, counterweighted drop-don door with four integral steps and a short left side handrail which also acts as the over centre lock.

    Inevitably, although above a lowered aisle, the phenoms ceiling line requires a slight stoop.

    Embrear calls the fuselages egg-shaped cross section "Oval Light" and claims it to have increased shoulder room and legroom where it counts, plus headroom higher than any other jet in its class. Yes, at just 1,50m this roof is a little low, but so is that in a Mercedes. Actually, this ones more BMW, having been styled by BMW Group Design works USA, with emphasis on ergonomics.

    The result is a lovely, welcoming, light and airy cabin in one of its four "gemstone palettes" . These are families of predominantly warm, light tones, with contrasting and complimentary sets of seven colours and "soft and satiny" textures entitled quartz, topaz, obsidian and citrine, giving 48 variations of standard materials.

    There are two similar standard cabin layouts. One has four seats that can be in either a club layout or with all four forward facing, plus at the front on the right, a 170-litre wardrobe or optional food and beverage stowage and refreshment centre.

    An alternative arrangement substitutes a sideways-facing seat for this wardrobe, making five cabin seats in all. Both plans have a flushing chemical toilet and wardrobe at the rear of the cabin, although six forward-facing cabin seats can be fitted as an option if the toilet is removed.

    PP-XOM, aircraft I flew, has the first option, with the tambour-fronted wardrobe facing the passengers as they enter. Turn right and the comfortable seats are just the ideal distance apart for leg room comfort, and they share 1, 55 metres of shoulder room.

    Facing pairs are separated by easy fold out tales, and each occupant has his or her own big, double glazed window with internal pleated fabric blinds, plus another on each side over the tables. The windows are bigger than those provided by most other small and mid-sized jets.

    Everybody has retractable lap/diagonal seat belts, adjustable headrests,headsect jacks for the in-flight entertainment,AC laptop power outlets,speakers,lights and air vents, although the only armrests are along the sidewalls, where there are also cork lined cup holders and magazine racks.

    These armrests lift to reveal small stowage compartments for mobile phones or personal electronic devices.

    At the cabins very rear is a curtained 'off lavatory area (a rigid door is optional) with plenty of light from two exterior windows, a half height cabinet on the left, plenty of work surfaces and storage but, surprisingly, no mirror. This area can also be used for stowing smaller items that cannot go into the unpressurised exterior baggage compartments, plus there is space under the seats.

    The Cockpit

    Having set your passengers at ease in their cabin, you can perhaps after them a drink, but don't waste time. As with all civil jets, we VIPs turn left on boarding.

    You have to step over the centre console, and the entry gap between the pilots' seats is a trifle narrow, but it opens on to a brilliant flight deck.

    The heated acrylic windshields give a broad outside view, although they do not open. Everything is where you would expect it, with no surprises, no clutter and no awful overhead panel (although there is as mall lighting panel above the standby compass).

    Both pilots' seats feature multiple adjustments, fold away armrests and sheepskin covers. The eye position indicator on the central windshield pillar is perfectly (Even Boeing cannot always get this right) and the rudder pedals can be adjusted into four positions by simply pulling their triggers.

    The control yokes are comfortable rams horns with pitch trim rocker switches and four buttons for radio transmit, the autopilot/pitch trim /yaw-damper/stick pusher disconnect, autopilot control wheel steering (CWS) and stopwatch start, stop and reset. There are also PTT buttons at either end of the glare shield, so that a non-flying pilot does not disturb the handling pilot when he transmits.

    To the pilots left is slim sidewall storage apace, plus his headset box, oxygen and quick don mask and the flight recorder controls. A head of these is the small electrical panel, while below on the inner sidewall is the main circuit breaker panel, with another, similar one mirrored on the right sidewall.

    The Phenom 100s all-gas Prodigy 100 flight deck layout is based on Garmin 1000 avionics, with three landscape-format twelve-inch flat-panel FIS screens. The outboards are primary flight displays (PFDs) ,while the inner is a multi-function display (MFD) . These monitors are not old fashioned cathode ray tubes, but much brighter and more easily read LED screens, and they are interchangeable in case of unserviceability.

    Most functions and selections are accessed by multi purpose 'soft' keys and knobs around their perimeters , and they provide far more information than those on any other airliner, business or military jet I have ever flown.

    The central MFD displays diagrammatic synoptic views of the main aircraft systems for ease of monitoring, operation and system fault diagnosis, while the central maintenance computer monitors and logs all such snags for subsequent download and rectification.

    For warnings and instrument setting you can chose your own preferred profile from a selection of 25.These allow you to select hectoPascals or inches for your altimeter settings, kilograms or pounds for all the weights, nautical or statute miles for distances, headings in magnetic, true or grid, with your display track up or heading up, and to have a male or female voice for the warnings, among many options.

    The basic five standby instruments of ASI, altimeter, compass, ILS and artificial horizon are combined into a single, central, digital integrated standby system (DISS) self-contained AHRS/ADC. This has a much higher MTBF than former electro-mechanical instruments, and is situated to the left of the instruments, and is situated to the left of the autopilot and flight director control panel (flight guidance panel) on the central glare shield.

    This rather unusual positioning is excellent because after an aircraft makes an instinctive reaction is to reach for these controls, and noticing an unusual attitude on the DISS will b the first step in remedying it.

    This huge array of information might appear daunting at first, but you quickly learn what is important and where to look for it, so you can be informed at a glance, while the professional standard"quite,dark cockpit" concept ensures its pilot is only distracted by vital alerts.

    Directly below the pilots PFD, and on either side of his control yoke are the fuel, stick pusher and anti-ice controls. The pressurization, air conditioning and test panels are similarly situated beside the right yoke, while the landing gear selector and FMS keypad are in the middle. Below these, on a central console are the engines starting panel, the fire extinguisher controls and the flying control trimmers. Aft of these are the thrust and flap levers and the red parking brake handle.

    Call me old-fashioned, but I do have tiny criticism of this otherwise exemplary flight deck. I know that mass and approach plates can be displayed on the EFIS screens, but still like to have a paper chart and a notepad handy, and you always seem to need to scribble something from time to time in flight, so I would like to see a document clip somewhere in the cockpit- in the centre of the control yoke perhaps, or on the side window sill.

    Nevertheless, the Phenom 100s high level of automation gives its pilot an exceptionally low workload (claimed by Embraer to be 70% less than on other equivalent jets) and makes operating the aircraft easier than even a piston single.

    For instance, before departure your flight plan data, ambient temperature and weights are entered on a central alpha numeric FMS keypad besides the landing gear lever. All the published SIDS, STARS, airways and approach profiles worldwide are already in its memory for your convenience. Then you merely make a quick scan around the systems panels, run through the checklist, call ATC and start the motors.

    Nowadays jet engine starting is completely automated, with all parameters monitored by the FADEC and all exceedences prevented (although you do still have to check the oil pressure rise).

    You just rotate each start switch knob to "start" ,wait half a minute while the starter/generator operates, observe the switch click back to run and that motor is in business.

    Our start-up was with a stiff tailwind (usually the most difficult case) but the ITTs barely topped 500 degrees centigrade.