The hot wing is, of course, a nicely executed illusion. The Phenom 100 makes use of deicing boots. Embraer has gone with silver-color boots, however, to give the airplane the look of a bleed-air heated leading edge. In my book, it’s a total affectation, one that I can’t help but love with just a twinge of guilt. The electrically heated windscreen is bordered by a metal frame affixed by numerous screws. In addition to looking cool, the frame can be removed in short order, allowing mechanics to replace the windscreen in the course of a couple of hours, since no panels need to be removed to do the job. It’s just one of the many service-first design features of the 100.
Another noteworthy feature of the Phenom 100 is the trailing link main landing gear, designed to be tough and to make touchdowns predictably smooth even for new jet flyers.
Embraer didn’t build the Phenom 100 to be a commercial machine, but it soon discovered that if you build something airline tough and cost effective to operate, the commercial operators will beat a path to your ramp.
The one thing these operators have been asking for is more seating, a tall order on a small jet. Embraer, however, figured out a way to do it, adding one side-facing seat in place of the wardrobe that you see when you first enter the airplane and another by making the potty a belted seat approved for takeoff and landing. The lavatory is the best in its class as well. With a hard-side pocket door, the lav, again, is something that you wouldn’t have found on an entry-level airplane.
The result of the additional seating is, remarkably, an eight-seat entry-level jet. Eight is a lot of occupants to have in the 100, to be sure, but the charter operators who asked for the upgrade say that it’s rare for all of the folks in back to be adults. Embraer did increase the zero fuel weight substantially, by 1,320 pounds, to allow the jet to dispatch when all the seats are full.
Another change sure to be popular is an option to upgrade the seats in the club seating area with more comfortable and more configurable seats based very closely on those in the Phenom 300. The replacement option is for all four seats — you can’t do just two of them — with a weight increase of 60 pounds. Something tells me that many owners will be willing to take that hit even if they’re not the ones sitting in the back.
Up front there are a few enhancements as well, though they’re not plainly visible. The TCAS II software has been upgraded to revision 7.1, a European requirement that allows the system to change its mind after it has issued a resolution advisory to climb or descend if the conflicting airplane accidentally mirrors the move of the host airplane and climbs or descends toward it.
Another new feature is SMS text messaging through Garmin’s Iridium-connected satellite link, the GSR 56. The new utility, which is handled through the Prodigy MFD, does text messaging and an SMS version of e-mail as well. More functions and cabin access to the system will likely come soon and will possibly include global weather. These functions are available in other, select G1000 installations.
The cockpit of the 100 is a comfortable and efficient place to do the business of flying the airplane. The seats are just right, with a lot of adjustability, including an easy up and down adjustment. There’s no eye-height sighting aid to help you determine the right height to set the seat, which I’d like to see. There’s also limited recline in the seats if they are pushed back to the stops. The rudder pedals are easily adjustable, though, and you can move them forward or aft to suit your body dimensions.
One system that Embraer is working on to upgrade soon is the brake by wire, which today requires a very smooth touch. A software/hardware update is in the works to make braking smoother and more efficient and to help keep the airplane braking in a straight line. There will even be new rudder pedal geometry to help the pilot get maximum pedal throw for better stopping power. The book values for runway length will not change, though the actual performance will be markedly better than the already impressive stopping power.
Starting up the 100 is remarkably easy. There are no “gates” in the throttle throw. You simply turn a rotary knob to “start” and let the system do the work while you monitor. If there were to be a hot or hung start, the system would automatically take care of the engine shutdown. It’s the way that engine management should be: foolproof.