Pilot Journal
Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Something Like A Phenomenon

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

Ben Marcus (demo pilot) and Cyrus Sigari grinning ear to ear after a great flight.
Put To The Test
For the test flight, I flew from Van Nuys, Calif., to St. George, Utah, and back. Sliding into the left seat, I got a chance to evaluate the business end of the Phenom 100—the cockpit. It comes equipped standard with the Garmin G1000–based Prodigy integrated flight deck. As opposed to a dozen or so other currently certified G1000-equipped aircraft, the Prodigy also provides complete synoptic system information, graphically depicting status on the MFD.

Prior to resting my hand on Embraer’s signature “ram’s horn” flight controls, I was a little skeptical of the design. With the natural resting position of the human hand being turned more inward rather than outward, however, I found the design to be very comfortable and effective.

After getting the engines started, getting clearance and plugging in the flight plan using the FMS keypad, I tested Embraer’s electronic braking system. When pushing on the brake pedals, electronic signals are sent to the brake computer, which ultimately meters hydraulic pressure to activate the brakes. The synthetic force feedback provided by a series of springs located in the pedal assembly takes a little getting used to.

phenomOnce cleared for takeoff, I entered the runway, stood up the throttles to takeoff power, and listened to the meaty Pratts spool up to full power while holding the brakes. Upon engine stabilization and brake release, the Phenom leapt forward with a high rate of acceleration. With a takeoff weight of 9,800 pounds and a temperature of 20 degrees C, the Phenom quickly accelerated to the rotation speed of the day, 101 knots, using about 2,200 feet of runway to break ground. Climbing through 1,000 feet, I engaged the GFC 700 autopilot, brought the flaps up and ran the climb checklist. Once cleaned up, we climbed out of the Southern California sky at a stabilized climb rate of about 2,800 fpm at 200 knots indicated. Due to the short flight distance and crowded skies in the Southwest, the flight would be limited to FL290, which the aircraft reached in 13 minutes. Had I climbed all the way up to FL410, it would have taken a total time of 27 minutes.

Embraer System Synoptics
Graphical depictions of system status ease cockpit workload
By Cyrus Sigari

phenomThe Prodigy flight deck in the Phenom 100 provides a number of innovative improvements over other G1000-equipped aircraft. One of the most notable is the implementation of system synoptic pages on the MFD, which displays graphical depictions of system status. The first light jet to implement system synoptics was the Eclipse 500, which had synoptic screens for each system displayed on the MFD through Eclipse’s Avio system. With the Eclipse out of production for the foreseeable future, the Phenom 100 is now the only light jet that provides graphical system synoptic information to the pilot.

Previously, system synoptics were found only on aircraft that were tenfold more expensive than the Phenom. They provide the pilot with organized and easy-to-read system status. Displaying synoptics on an MFD significantly frees up space in the cockpit because only critical information is continuously shown (the “prettier” optional information is available should a pilot need it).

System synoptics become increasingly handy during adverse flight conditions when a system anomaly or malfunction has occurred. With the copious information displayed on the synoptic pages, an operator or mechanic can quickly diagnose problems that may otherwise take significantly more time to isolate.

As opposed to Eclipse’s Avio system, which controlled system operation with a combination of the synoptic pages displayed on the MFD and electronic circuit breakers (ECBs), the Phenom’s synoptic pages are, for the most part, “output” only. More specifically, with a few small exceptions, you can’t control systems with the MFD; rather, the MFD simply depicts the status of each system. System control is still accomplished by more conventional switches located in the cockpit.

As both Embraer and its customers continue to build experience and confidence in the current layout and design of the Phenom’s flight deck, don’t be surprised if further improvements are implemented, putting full system control in the MFD.

1 Comment

Add Comment