Like all recently designed business jets, the Phenom fuselage sits atop the wing so no wing structure intrudes on the cabin. The wing is a unique Embraer design that combines both good low-speed characteristics and an airfoil shape that delays critical Mach to a speed above the Mach .70 maximum of the airplane. That means air accelerating to flow over the wing does not reach Mach 1 and the high drag that creates. It also means the Phenom gains very little in efficiency and range when slowing down from high-speed cruise because even at max cruise the wing is operating with low drag.
The wing flaps are very long in span, and extend far aft on tracks before deflecting down so they add a great deal of area to the wing, and open a large slot to promote smooth airflow at high angles of attack. During flight testing the company found that two wing fences on each side improved low speed lift. The fences -- sometimes called stall fences -- help to prevent spanwise airflow at high angles of attack by physically blocking the slipstream and forcing it back over the wing. Fences were once common on business jet wings, but more recently vortex generators that create a high energy wake have been used to accomplish the same goal. Embraer experimented with several styles of vortex generator devices but found the tried and true fence delivered the greatest improvement for the least weight and drag.
The Phenom 100 meets or exceeds all design goals set when the program was announced in 2005, including an increase in baggage space to a cavernous 55 cubic feet in the tailcone. It turned out that the systems required less than anticipated space so there is more room for baggage. Enough room to carry two sets of full-length skis, plus four garment bags, four roll-on suitcases and four laptop cases.
The airplane sits pretty high on its trailing-link main landing gear and the T-tail is way up there at more than 14 feet above the ramp. The horizontal tail is fixed, and dual trim tabs are used for pitch trim. The engines are also located high on the fuselage to keep them up and away from the accelerated air flowing over the wing. The fuselage inboard of the nacelles is hallowed out according to the "area rule" to reduce drag. The high engine location makes it easy to load and unload the baggage compartment without a lot of stooping and bending, but a large and easy to read sight gauge makes checking the engine oil a snap without need for a ladder.
To account for the high stance, and to ease passenger access, the Phenom has a big jet-style airstair door. The airstair has integral steps, of course, and even a handrail, something not seen in light jets. Opening and closing the door from inside or out is a simple one lever throw process, and a well-done spring balance system makes it easy to raise or lower the door.
The forward fuselage and canopy flow smoothly with full-time electrically heated windshields blending in. The shape no doubt contributes to the low noise of the cockpit. The windshield design also allows it to be replaced entirely from the outside in an hour with no need for special tools or curing of sealants. In fact, all components and sensors such as the stall warning, pitot-static, standby electric fuel pumps, and so on can be removed and replaced from outside the airplane with no special tools.
The entire airplane looks rugged, and it is with a design life of 35,000 hours or flight cycles, a number it would take a very active business jet flier 70 years to reach. And the design philosophy which follows the best practices that have flowed from the airline industry gives the Phenom 100 an inspection interval of 600 hours or 12 months. There are no other maintenance phases, or steps, to deal with in between, which is remarkable in any turbine business airplane. A central maintenance computer tracks and records all faults in flight. Embraer plans for the computer to actually radio link maintenance reports to its service centers while the Phenom is still in flight so the shop can prepare to replace the failed items when it lands. And in keeping with the quiet and dark cockpit philosophy, the maintenance computer does not intrude on the pilots with messages about problems that they can do nothing about in flight.
The Phenom cockpit is as roomy as any light business jet and more spacious than some. The crew seats are comfortable with a good range of adjustments. The instrument panel is uncluttered and has only a fraction of the switches and knobs of many jets. Switches are mounted in thick, sturdy panels that are fastened to the instrument panel by quick release screws. If a switch fails, the whole subpanel it is mounted in can be replaced in a couple minutes.
The three Garmin Prodigy flat-panel displays are identical and can be swapped out with nothing more than a simple screwdriver. All of the airplane configuration data is stored outside the display panels, so any panel can plug into any spot in any Phenom. You can even dispatch with one display failed. If it is the pilot's PFD or the center MFD that fails, you simply move the display from the right side into position and takeoff with full capability.