Embraer Phenom 300

By By Fred George fred_george@aviationweek.com
Source: Business & Commercial Aviation

Both the cockpit side and cabin windows are prone to frosting over during high-altitude cruise. Embraer is exploring a fix for the problem as it also is a common gripe of Phenom 100 operators.

Engine inlets have been prone to cracking around rivets. Embraer developed a Service Bulletin to replace the original inlets with improved units. Most aircraft have been retrofitted with the upgrade, but there's still a fleet-wide requirement to inspect the inlets for cracks at 100-hr. intervals.

Some operators, particularly those who frequently use airports in mountainous terrain, complain that being restricted to Flaps 3 (26 deg.), rather than being able to use full landing Flaps 4 (35 deg.), doesn't provide enough drag to control speed during steep approaches, particularly in gusty winds. However, approval to use full flaps was recently granted by Brazilian, U.S. and European airworthiness certification authorities. Retrofit kits now are available and new aircraft are being delivered with the upgrade.

The Phenom 300 is all about function over form, substance over style, because of its Embraer jetliner DNA. That's also a shortcoming, some operators say. The outside and inside appearance of the aircraft, in its present configuration, isn't on a par with other light jets, particularly archrival CJ4. The aluminum leading edges of the wings, for instance, cannot be polished to a chrome-like sheen. The exterior paint doesn't hold up well when exposed to weather.

The BMW Designworks interior may be functional, but it's austere compared to the cabins of a Citation CJ, Premier IA, Hawker 400XP or Learjet 40/45XR. The upholstery materials don't hold up well in heavy service, the bright metal trim on the center aisle sides mars easily, the cupholders are too shallow and using the electrical power outlets in the sidewalls props open the access doors, thereby denying the use of the side ledge as an armrest.

Industry sources tell BCA that Embraer is well aware of such operator concerns and that a substantial interior upgrade will be announced in fourth quarter 2013. In support of this effort, the firm hired Jay Beever, famed for his new product completions work at Gulfstream Aerospace, to “take [the interior] to the next step,” according to Marco Tulio Pellegrini, Embraer's senior vice president operations and COO of Embraer Executive Jets.

The next major Prodigy cockpit up–grade will be available during the same timeframe, one that will make possible user-defined holding patterns, baro-altitude-based vertical navigation and WAAS LPV approaches.

‘All Ears’ at Embraer

When Embraer created its executive jet division in 2005, it announced its intent to become a major player in business aviation, which was already a jam-packed market. The first versions of its Legacy 600, a derivative of its EMB135 jetliner, fell short of that goal. But based upon customer concerns, Embraer continued to refine the aircraft, first with a drag reduction package that added 200+ nm of range and later with successive interior upgrades that transformed the aircraft into a highly capable, 3,400-nm range super-midsize business jet.

The pattern of ongoing product re–finement appears to be continuing with the Phenom 100 and Phenom 300. NetJets' new Signature Series aircraft, for instance, are equipped with Prodigy Touch flight decks with Garmin G3000 avionics featuring Garmin touch-screen controllers, an upgraded refreshment center, Wi-Fi and IFE. More improvements are in the works.

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