Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Owners’ Analysis: Eclipse, Mustang & Phenom

What better method is there of analyzing the current field of light jets than asking owners?

Pilot reports can only tell you so much. Back in the glory days of aviation, when the industry was selling 18,000 units a year, manufacturers used to provide airplanes to magazines for several days or even a week for evaluation. In those happy times, we'd wring out the airplane in every way possible: short-field takeoffs and landings; 75%, 65% and 55% cruise at several altitudes; the full gamut of stalls; an examination of CG concerns, and sometimes, even a run to the service ceiling. That's not so much the case anymore. As the market has dropped from 18,000 to 1,800, manufacturers no longer have demonstrator aircraft just sitting around, so pilot reports often are confined to an hour or two of flying with a company pilot.

…And in some respects, that may not be so bad. Pilot reports don't reveal every aspect of an airplane's personality, anyway. What we often miss in a pirep is the personal touch of an owner's opinions. What does he or she like most about his airplane? After a hundred or a thou­­sand hours, what would he change if he had the chance?

Therefore, forthwith and to wit, we decided to ask some owners for their opinions on three light jets—the Cessna Mustang, the Embraer Phenom 100 and the Total Eclipse 500. There are several hundred of each model available, so it's not hard to find owners willing to talk to us about the airplane's positives and negatives. We listened carefully, and here's what they told us.

Cessna Citation Mustang 510
Bill Maudru is president of a construction company based in Napa, Calif., and has occasion to travel all over the U.S. on demand for both business and pleasure. He has been flying for a half-dozen years, and his previous airplane was a Cessna Grand Caravan.

"The Caravan was a great aircraft for local travel around California. It could haul a ton of people and equipment (literally), and with all the doors and ladders, it was an easy airplane to load, even with a forklift," Maudru explains, "but inevitably, we wanted more speed. We had the airplane on a dry lease with two other companies, and it was working well, but our two lessee clients agreed faster would be better."


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