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?

Finally, Gruner visited the Embraer booth, and in his words, "I struck gold. The Phenom 100 was almost the ideal airplane for my needs. It had slightly more powerful Pratt & Whitney engines with essentially the same FADEC system as the Mustang. At the time, the 100 was only about $500,000 more than the Mustang, it had a large cabin, and there was an onboard potty."

Gruner put down his deposit, in hope that Embraer would certify the light jet in two years. "As it turned out, it was late 2009 before my airplane was ready. My wife and I plus a check pilot flew down to the factory in São José dos Campos, Brazil, I went through the transition course, and we flew the airplane home a short time later. Today, I have over 700 hours in the Phenom 100, and the airplane just keeps getting better."

Gruner operates his Phenom 100 on a regular basis for both business and pleasure, and everyone who flies with him loves the jet. "It's an easy airplane to fly, and the systems are fairly idiotproof," Gruner comments. "I regularly cruise between FL350 and 410 and see 335 to 340 knots up high. Optimum altitude for speed is FL300, where you can manage slightly over 390 knots under the proper conditions."

The Phenom 100 uses a version of the Garmin G1000 flat panel avionics that Embraer calls the Prodigy system. Gruner feels it's not that tough to use, but acknowledges that it takes a while to get used to. "There's so much capability there that it took me a full year before I was playing it like a piano."

His only reservation about the Phenom 100 is the braking system. "Embraer is working hard to improve the airplane's ABS braking. For now, it's a little fragile, but we can still get the jet into pretty much anyplace we want.

"The Phenom 100 spoils you in almost every respect," says Gruner. "If I fly high, I can get by on 520 pounds/hour. I'm well aware that fuel is only one of the costs of operating a jet, but as far as I'm concerned, the Phenom 100's performance puts it at the head of the pack."
According to Feingold, the Total Eclipse is a nearly ideal airplane for his purely personal missions.
Total Eclipse 500
Gordon Feingold of Santa Barbara, Calif., is one of those lucky people who's realizing a goal that many of us have—to retire at a relatively young age with his own personal jet and the means to travel extensively.

Late last year, Feingold took delivery of a Total Eclipse 500 and turned 60 at about the same time. "It's a dream my wife and I have had for several years, to see the world the way we want to, and now we're doing just that," says Feingold.


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