October 22, 2013
Almost a year after Embraer flew its first midsize jet, the Legacy 500, the company is preparing to fly its smaller sibling, the Legacy 450.
The two models, essentially the same aircraft sized for different markets, are part of the Brazilian airframer’s ambitious agenda to offer a product in every major business jet category.
Embraer filled the entry level and light jet niches with its Phenom 100 and 300, the super midsize and large markets with the Legacy 600/650, and the ultra large with the Lineage. Now comes the Legacy 500, an aircraft targeted for the midsize market but with a cabin closer to super midsize.
Delayed more than a year by software issues with its fly-by-wire system, the 500 is progressing toward certification in the first half of 2014. Embraer actually rolled out the initial 500 in December 2011, but first flight did not follow until November 2012 as it worked to address authorities’ concerns about the flight control system.
Now, with three prototypes having logged more than 650 of the planned 1,500 hr. of flight tests, authorities appear impressed by the system, says Embraer test pilot Eduardo Camelier. FAA and European Aviation Safety Agency pilots have flown the aircraft within the past six weeks, he says, and their feedback was positive.
While flight testing has not yet hit the halfway point, Embraer has amassed 4,500 hr. of ground evaluations on its “iron bird” and performed 16,000 hr. of systems testing. A good part of this was accomplished before first flight, setting up a smoother test program.
Embraer is checking off key tasks, with test aircraft SN001 undergoing artificial ice shape trials and scheduled for avionics and autopilot certification, along with steep approach tests. SN002, which flew in February, will be used for natural icing and crosswind tests, along with external noise certification.
SN003, meanwhile, made the Legacy 500’s first public appearance at the European Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition in May and is here this week. It has undergone avionics and cold soak tests and is now in high-intensity radiated fields and lightning trials. Certification of the 450 is expected to follow about a year behind the 500. Marco Tulio Pellegrini, senior vice president and COO of Embraer Executive Jets, says it may well fly by year’s end. The fuselage was joined in August, and wings were mated in late September.
With about 95% systems commonality, much of the work accomplished on the 500 can roll over to the 450, particularly for iron bird trials. Some cables and tubing need to be shortened, but the same rig will be used.