Phenom 100 owners gather, plan to form an association

 - October 1, 2009, 9:32 AM

A small group of Embraer Phenom 100 owners came together in Santa Barbara, Calif., on August 29 for the first Phenom owners gathering. Ben Marcus, a partner
in light jet brokerage firm JetAviva, Van Nuys, Calif., helped put the meeting together, which attracted eight owners, who could form the nucleus of a Phenom 100 owners association.

As of mid-September, Embraer had delivered nearly 30 Phenom 100s. The company sent four people to the owners gathering, including Luis Colarino, senior manager of executive jets customer support, who gave a presentation on the Phenom 100 fleet status and current problems that Embraer is solving.

“There seems to be more Phenom 100s on the West Coast,” said Betsy Frost, who with her husband Jim, took delivery of the first Phenom 100 last December 26. “We wanted to plan a meeting. All the owners were really happy to be there and talk to other owners.” Jim Frost earned the first Phenom 100 type rating and his wife the third.

JetAviva’s Marcus was the second pilot type rated in the Phenom 100 and has logged more than 300 hours in the type. “It’s a pilot’s airplane, fun to fly,” he said. Having worked with Phenom 100 buyers moving up from airplanes such as a Cessna 340 and Piper Malibu with a JetProp turbine conversion, Marcus has found that there are two key factors that make a pilot ready for the transition. One is being IFR proficient, not just legally current. And pilots must be familiar with Garmin’s G1000 avionics system before trying to fly the Phenom 100.

“The purpose of the gathering,” Marcus said, “was to get an owners’ organization going. I think we achieved that.” The next Phenom 100 gathering is planned for the beginning of next year, he said.

Building Time on the Aircraft
The Frosts live near Houston and keep their Phenom 100 at the Wilson Air Center FBO at Hobby Airport. As of mid-September, they had flown 229.5 hours on the airplane. Typical flights are at 39,000 to 41,000 feet, and during one flight from Oakland, Calif., to Houston, the Frosts enjoyed a 60-knot tailwind and made the trip in four hours and 10 minutes. A typical cruise speed is Mach 0.63. “We’re just crazy about it,” Betsy Frost said. “It’s got a huge baggage compartment that holds 353 pounds.”

Because they both sit in the front, the slightly noisy cabin isn’t a factor, they said, and in any case the airplane is much quieter than their former King Air 90. A fan in the Phenom 100 cabin is one source of noise, Jim Frost explained, adding, “We’ve been told that more recent ones off the assembly line are quieter. We never sit in back.”

The Frosts are looking forward to receiving new, redesigned cabin seats from Embraer in the first quarter of next year. The original seats are close together, making it difficult to move bags in the aisle. Embraer designed the new seats, which will be incorporated on the Phenom 100 assembly line next month, to recline and add more space in the aisle.

Other problems include a flaps fault, which is being fixed. For now, pilots simply have to pull the flaps circuit breaker before shutting the engines down to prevent the flaps system from seeing a big voltage drop after shutdown. “We were the first to discover the problem,” Jim Frost aid, “but they came up with a workaround and we haven’t had any problem since.”

The Frosts have had to replace some air-conditioner compressors, but the last one in May has taken care of that problem. A generator also failed in Dallas, but that was the only one in the fleet so far.

One drawback for Phenom 100 buyers has been the lack of a simulator. All training has to be done in the airplane, which means that pilots have to travel
to Brazil for training then back to the U.S. for the type-rating checkride. CAE SimuFlite is building the Phenom 100 simulator, and it should be approved well before year-end.