Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Something Like A Phenomenon
Flying Embraer’s first entry-level jet, the Phenom 100
The optional premium passenger airstair door includes chromed supports and LED lighting.
As we transitioned from SoCal Approach and checked in with L.A. Center, I threw the controller for a bit of a loop. “Uh… what kind of plane is that you’re flying there?” With only 20 Phenom 100s in North America at this writing, controllers, FBOs and pilots alike are all still getting to know this new little jet. By the end of 2009, Embraer expects to have about 100 Phenom 100s delivered. Not bad for the first full year of production!
As I continued along to St. George, I took some noise readings. The cockpit’s noise level was fantastic; no headsets needed to speak to your copilot. The noise signature at cruise was measured to be 80 dB, and 81 dB in the aft cabin.
Before I knew it, it was time to begin the descent into St. George. Descending the Phenom 100, like any jet, requires preparation and planning. Due to high speed and high flying altitudes, it’s not uncommon to start the descent 100 nm before your destination. Descents are commonly done at an Mmo of Mach 0.70 or a Vmo of 275 knots indicated (with true airspeeds reaching above 400 knots).
As I evaluated the arrival into St. George, I decided to shoot the LPV approach. Because of the momentum associated with an aircraft that has a maximum takeoff weight of 10,472 pounds, a slick airframe, no speed brakes, a gear speed of 275 knots and an initial flap speed of 200 knots, it takes a little work to get the machine slowed down for the approach. If you’re not slowed down below 180 knots before you capture glideslope on an ILS or LPV approach, it will be difficult to slow the aircraft down. That being said, all it takes is a little planning.
I let the autopilot shoot the approach until 500 feet, disconnected the autopilot and went visual. Crossing the threshold, I brought throttles to idle, and brought the 100 in for my first Embraer landing. The trailing-link gear gently greeted the earth. As mentioned earlier, the combination of the high tire pressure and the electronic brakes takes a little getting used to on the ground and can cause the aircraft to skip around a little on landing. Once firmly on the ground, you can go to maximum braking and let the antiskid system quickly bring the Phenom 100 to a gentle stop. Fifty-eight minutes after departing Van Nuys, I pulled off the runway at St. George. Now that’s fast.
Not only is it fast, but the Phenom is comfortable, high-tech, and has a great ramp presence. Embraer has hit a home run with its first entry-level jet, providing a great value to those who are fortunate enough to afford the $3.6 million price tag. The Phenom 100’s initial entry into service has gone relatively well, with few issues thus far. When there have been issues, all of the early operators I’ve spoken to have had nothing but the highest praise for Embraer’s responsiveness and customer service. With the 100’s big brother, the Phenom 300, just around the corner (certification is expected later this year), I can’t wait to see what Embraer has up its sleeve!
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