The Phenom 100 is a delight to fly in the terminal area. Flap and gear extension speeds are high so the airplane fits in well with other jet traffic. The Pratt engines are very responsive so speed control is easy. VREF final approach speeds are close to 100 knots, but to long runways at busy airports you can fly faster without a lot of float over the runway. And on approach the Phenom is in a very natural attitude that requires nothing more than bringing the power to idle and very slightly raising the nose to make a great landing on the long stroke trailing-link gear.
On my last landing in the airplane I went for a maximum effort stop. I cut the power a little higher for a firmer touchdown, and with maximum braking, which takes a very strong push on the pedals, the Phenom stopped in under 1,500 ground roll. The antiskid brake logic is very aggressive but I had no difficulty maintaining the center line as the system cycled the brakes to prevent wheel lock.
During one takeoff Embraer test pilot Clodoaldo Matias de Oliveira cut the right engine at V1 decision speed. The rudder is so effective and the force so manageable that I actually pushed the slip-skid indicator out the right side with too much left rudder. The wings stayed level with no aileron input, and the traffic pattern trip and engine-out approach and landing felt totally natural, like I had been flying the airplane for years instead of a couple hours.
Though I didn't have a chance to fly a Phenom with complete interior, I did spend time in an airplane just being readied for delivery and the cabin is impressive. The materials and quality of workmanship is first rate, and there are many comfort and convenience features developed by BMW Designworks that created the cabin design. The environmental system is divided in two with separate temperature controls for both cockpit and cabin. And the potty in the aft of the cabin is both usable in size and private.
Another comfort feature of the Phenom -- and this is a psychological comfort -- are the big cabin windows. The area of each cabin window is larger than other light jets, and even bigger than those in many midsize jets. The windows are mounted above the center of the fuselage so you can see out without bending, and the available natural light greatly adds to the sensation of space and comfort. Even the potty has a window on each side.
Though Embraer has enjoyed success in the airline market, supporting light business jets is a different mission, and the company has made that its number one goal. Embraer has three factory-owned service centers in Florida, Connecticut and Arizona up and working, and eight other major independent jet service centers authorized to do maintenance. There are also several international service centers, and the company offers fixed by the hour maintenance cost plans for the entire airplane, and Pratt & Whitney does the same for the engines. Training is at CAE in Dallas through a simulator program owned jointly by Embraer and CAE. Embraer feels so strongly about training that it has invested in the program rather than simply authorizing CAE.
Embraer has more than 800 orders for the Phenom 100 and the larger 300 model that is now in flight test and expected to be delivered late this year. The company doesn't break out order numbers for each model, but says the backlog for the 100 is around four years. The production schedule for 100s this year is 125 airplanes, but that all depends, of course, on the state of the global economy. All of the Phenom 100s until the fall of this year are destined for U.S. customers.
Many airplanes over the years have been called mini airliners, or personal airliners, but the Phenom 100 comes closest to that description yet. The simplified systems and operation, the long maintenance interval with ease of repair design, and the robust construction of the airplane are all lessons learned by Embraer out on the line. But the Phenom 100 also has the right size, performance and cost to compete head on with other light jets. Embraer is a high-tech company using the latest computer design and manufacturing tools, and it has brought all of those resources to bear on the creation of the Phenom, and the several more business jet models it now has in development. I think the airline experience it brings to its business jets will help make all business flying better.