Pilot Journal
Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Something Like A Phenomenon

Flying Embraer’s first entry-level jet, the Phenom 100

The Prodigy integrated flight deck by Garmin provides pilots with graphical system status synoptics on the MFD.
The radome houses the optional Garmin GWX 68 radar, which provides both lateral and vertical profiling of hazardous weather. I am, however, a little surprised that an aircraft of this level and value has radar as optional (and not standard) equipment.

On the right side of the fuselage, I inspected the nose-steering linkage pin to ensure that it was connected. Unlike most light jets, the Phenom 100’s nose-steering linkage can be disconnected, giving operators the ability to spin the nosegear 360 degrees, and making ground handling more versatile for FBO linemen. All three landing gear also require ground-handling pins as protection from accidental collapse when the ship’s hydraulic system isn’t activated. The Goodyear tires are pressurized to a surprisingly high pressure of roughly 170 psi, which contributes to the Phenom 100 being a little “skippity” on landing—more on that later.

Continuing my walkaround, I inspected the three pitot tubes powering three independent air data computers, along with the angle-of-attack sensor that provides data to the Garmin Prodigy system to display 1.3 multiplied by Vso or Vs (depending on the aircraft’s configuration) on the airspeed tape, a handy feature that helps operators double-check their landing speeds.

The Phenom 100’s nearly 450 mph top cruise speed can be partly attributed to its wing design. Due to its relatively low-aspect-ratio wing, the Phenom 100 gets good cruise speed efficiency, handles turbulence well and requires special attention during slow-speed flight. The Phenom 100 is equipped with a stick pusher that’s activated when the aircraft reaches an angle of attack close to the critical angle of attack. When the stick pusher engages, the elevator control is pushed forward before the aircraft can reach a stall. Additionally, added to the upper surface of the wing are a series of two stall fences that help keep flow attached and aligned during slow-speed flight.

The ergonomics of the Phenom 100’s roomy, airline-influenced cockpit provides for both a comfortable and easy-to-use environment for any flight crew.
The Phenom’s wing and tail leading edges are protected from icing by silver-colored rubber deice boots. Because of the emphasis Embraer placed on fuel efficiency and low acquisition cost with the Phenom 100, keeping the leading edges protected by deice boots—as opposed to heated anti-ice “hot wings”—was an important design decision. The Phenom 100’s two trusty Pratt & Whitney Canada (PWC) PW617F-E engines aren’t robbed of nearly as much valuable bleed air when protecting the wings and tail as they would be with a hot-wing design.

The PW617F-E is the third 600-series engine that PWC has certified. The PW615F was the first, installed on the Citation Mustang, and the PW610F was the second, installed on the Eclipse 500. Because the general design of all three engines is almost identical, PWC was able to learn from the nearly 1,000 engines built throughout the 600-series to further improve on the PW617F.

The Phenom 100’s engines are controlled by dual full authority digital engine control (FADEC) computers, providing full hot- and hung-start protection (a big benefit in avoiding the costly consequences associated with a hot start, which may cost up to $100,000). Starting the engines on the Phenom 100 is as simple as starting your car: Take the start selectors from the “off” position and twist them to the “start” position. That’s it.

Designed by the folks at BMW, the interior is modern and functional. The aircraft has a roomy cabin with large windows and comes standard with four seats in a club-style configuration. The fully enclosed lavatory in the aft of the cabin comes standard with a flushing electric toilet; 110 VAC outlets under the passenger armrests can power laptops or DVD players.

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