FLIGHTCHECK

Embraer Phenom 100: $3.6 million, M.70, FL 410, 1178 nm, seats 2+4

Light bizjet embodies latest trends in design and avionics to achieve superior performance.


Front office of the Phenom 100 provides a professional workplace with big windows.

Neto invited me to take the left cockpit seat as he himself settled in the right seat. It is a little tight to get into the seat, as the center pedestal with its thrust levers requires you to lift your legs, but after sitting down pilots have ample space and a great view through 4 large cockpit windows.

Instruments and switches are all arranged in front of the pilots, and there is only a very small overhead panel for lighting switches. The circuit breakers are located outboard to the left and right of the foot pedal area, but are relatively easy to reach.

Avionics set-up

We went through the cockpit and before-start checklists, which were still in paper form-something I did not mind at all-and began to enter the necessary data into the Garmin Prodigy avionics.

Data entry into the G1000 is not as intuitive as, for example, the Honeywell Apex, where the cursor always jumps to the next required field. Data numeric and text entries are done at different locations, sometimes at a central keypad, sometimes at rotating knobs, sometimes at keys on the display frame itself.

After we had programmed our flightplan to GPX (Gavião Peixoto SP), Embraer's private test airfield, we started the 2 Pratt & Whitney Canada PW 617F engines through the FADEC-controlled automatic engine start sequence.

The rear-mounted engines are able to produce approximately 1695 lbs of thrust each. As part of the after-start items, we had to do a stick-pusher test. During this the stall warning is activated and the pusher pushes the control columns forward with a force of over 130 lbs.

With a spacious cabin for this class of aircraft, the Phenom 100 offers a full separate lavatory.

With all tests complete and the GPU disconnected, we read the after-start checklist and taxied to SJK's Runway 15. Neto set the flaps to Flaps 1 for takeoff, while I used the rudder pedals for nosewheel steering.

One neat feature that is normally only found in transport category aircraft is the takeoff configuration warning. As power is increased for takeoff, important items such as flaps, trim and parking brake are checked and a warning horn buzzes if they are not properly set for takeoff.

After a lineup I set takeoff thrust by moving the throttles all the way to the forward stop and released the brakes. The Phenom 100 accelerated very nicely and I rotated the aircraft to a pitch of about 12° after liftoff.

Neto retracted the hydraulically operated gear and trim was done electrically in all 3 axes. After flap retraction, ATC kept us low-below 24,000 ft-due to the heavy volume of arrival and departure traffic for the São Paulo area airports.

Phenom 100's 2 Pratt & Whitney Canada PW617Fs are FADEC controlled.

After 25 minutes cruise we reached the reserved area around GPX. Once we were released by ATC, we climbed to FL 350. I flew by hand all the way, and found the aircraft stable and comfortable to fly.

After reaching FL 350-which took us (counting only climb phases) about 29 minutes-I flew left and right steep turns with 60° bank.

This maneuver was stable to fly even at this high altitude and a sign for the comfortable flight characteristics of the Phenom 100. We descended again and, even without extending the gear-the Phenom does not have speed brakes-we achieved a sink rate of about 4000 fpm.

Stalls, pattern and radar

At 15,000 ft we flew a few stall maneuvers. The Phenom 100 has a relatively short body and a T-tail, and it may happen in a full stall that the elevator is in turbulent air, reducing its efficiency. It is for this reason that a pusher is installed.

However, flying with a stickpusher requires training, because the sudden forward movement of the control wheel imposed by the pusher just before the stall may cause the pilot to pull back instinctively, causing a secondary stall.

Visibility was unlimited, and we returned to GPX to do a few landings there. At 1500 ft AGL we entered the traffic pattern as the only aircraft. Abeam the landing threshold we extended the gear. Flaps were on Flaps 1 already, and on base Neto extended the flaps to Flaps 2.

Since Flaps 3 and Full were not permitted in this aircraft (due to a flaps-related AD that had just come out), this would be our final flap setting for landing. The Phenom 100 is very stable on approach and enjoyable to fly.

Following a smooth touchdown, Neto retracted the flaps to 1 and we increased thrust for a touch-and-go. When airborne, at 50 ft, Eloy pulled the number 2 engine thrust lever to idle to simulate an engine failure.

Even though the engines are arranged close to the centerline, quite some rudder pressure was necessary to keep a straight flightpath. However, with increasing speed and after retracting the gear, we reached a good climb rate and comfortable single-engine flight characteristics.

After the second pattern we did a full-stop landing. Deceleration and brake efficiency were less than expected but that was probably because of the fact that we only landed with Flaps 2 and not Full.

Peter Berendsen (L) and Embraer Instructor Capt Eloy Bayer Neto discuss maneuvers during cruise.

During refueling, Flight Test Engineer Roberto Grings Herbert explained the reason for the limitation on the flaps. A software problem in the flap controller unit was causing it to fail. In connection with a go-around, a wrong signal to the stall warning computer could activate the stick pusher, which is obviously not wanted at low altitudes.

Embraer has solved this problem already. A new flap controller unit will be installed in all Phenom 100s, Flaps 3 will be eliminated and Flaps Full will be fully certified again. Thunderstorms were forecast for SJK for the evening, and Neto wanted to get back.

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