Pilot Report: Embraer Lineage 1000

 - November 24, 2009, 5:38 AM

Ask people why they finally decided to acquire a business airplane and they inevitably mention speed as the deciding factor. But as Concorde passengers learned over the years, the sensation of speed is quickly forgotten when the cabin is as cramped as it was aboard the SST. Speed may initially attract people to business airplanes, but it’s overall comfort on a long flight that determines the real value of an aircraft.

Embraer’s new Lineage 1000, the corporate version of the manufacturer’s successful E190 airliner series, is designed to offer a very-large-cabin aircraft at a price significantly below competitors’. The Lineage includes the latest fly-by-wire technology using the traditional Embraer ram’s-horn control yoke. A Lineage, including the completed interior, lists for $49.25 million ($ 2009). A green Boeing BBJ–based on the 737–is priced between $51 million and $67 million depending upon the model. Airbus offers the ACJ (based on the A319) and the Elite (based on the A318). Those airplanes sell for $75 million and $62 million, respectively, with interior.

To date, Embraer has delivered 251 E190s–all to the airlines. The Lineage received FAA certification in January 2009 and recently began a world tour to give the public a chance to experience the machine. Embraer officials say they have orders in hand for 20 of these corporate airliners. AIN caught up with the Lineage in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Inside the Lineage

In the corporate airliner realm, the Lineage is the little kid on the block, with a maximum ramp weight of 120,593 pounds versus the Boeing (depending upon the 737 version)  at 171,500 pounds to 188,200 pounds and the Airbus series (depending upon the model) between 150,000 and 166,000 pounds. All are certified to FL410, where the maximum pressure differential on the Lineage is 8.8 psi for a 7,000-foot cabin. The Lineage is authorized for Category II operations. The E190 is also RNP and MNPS ready.

The Lineage requires 6,135 feet for takeoff at mtow on a standard day, and 2,665 feet for landing, making a variety of destinations accessible. According to Embraer, the Lineage will burn approximately 36,738 pounds of fuel on the longest leg of just over nine hours. That translates into a direct operating cost of $3,227 per hour based on a fuel cost of $4.25 (figure does not include engine reserves).

The E190 offers a total baggage volume of 443 cu ft in a rear baggage compartment accessible during flight and a front compartment under the floor reachable on the ground. Maximum fuel load on a Lineage is 48,217 pounds, with a maximum payload of 9,414 pounds.

The Lineage cabin can be divided into as many as five separate private compartments in addition to a crew rest area, a full galley and as many as three lavatories, the rear one including a shower. Embraer offers customers a wide range of options. Possibilities include 35 different veneers, 60 colors of Corian for the entry area, lavatories and galley work surface, 35 types of ultraleather, 18 color and finish options for platings, 60 assorted carpets, 400 types of leather and more than 700 assorted fabric options.

Climbing Aboard

The first view of a Lineage from the ramp can be deceiving. The cabin is long enough for someone standing in the galley to easily lose track of someone in the rear. Our test airplane–PP-XTE–was destined for a customer in the Middle East right after a trip to Teterboro and a session at the Dubai Air Show. 

The Lineage uses a self-contained set of airstairs that can be operated as many as four times when the aircraft is not powered. Heading back into the cabin, the galley is separated from the first cabin by a folding-fan type door that I thought was a bit heavy to operate. That might have been because the aircraft had fewer than 50 hours on it. The cabin on the demo aircraft is lavish by any standards and will seem especially spacious to anyone moving up from an airplane the size of a Legacy 600 or Gulfstream. The Lineage easily seats six across with a wide aisle between. The cabin is also wide enough that two separate meetings can take place on opposite sides of the cabin without either party disturbing the other.

The entrance to the cockpit is wide as you pass the flight attendant jumpseat and the storage on both sides of the aisle before entering the front office. I connected there with my flight instructor crew, Capts. Edson Bacci and Prado da Fonseca. Bacci had been involved with the Lineage since the concept was first put to paper.

The cockpit seats slide back and outboard, making for an easy entrance no matter what size the pilots. Electrically controlled rudder pedals ease any final adjustments that might be needed. Pilots who have flown the EMB-120 Brasilia will feel right at home with the clean, uncluttered panel on the Lineage. I particularly like that the company fixed one problem we always had on the Brasilia–cold feet–with a special foot warmer device on the E190. The cockpit also has an AC power outlet on each side of the cockpit in case a laptop needs to be fired up at some point during the flight. Overall, I thought the cockpit was the right size; if it were any wider the two pilots would be too far apart. Side cockpit windows open easily on the Lineage, making fresh airflow on the ground available before firing up the APU.

The Honeywell Primus Epic flight deck is an evolutionary joy of the technology that is standard on almost any aircraft that flies. The information on the five LCD screens is clear and easy to read and easily updated with either of the two cursor control devices. Essentially, everything from electrics to hydraulics to pneumatics to ignition remains in auto for engine start. The details of engine starts used to be an item aviation journalists followed religiously just because of the possibility something unusual might occur. No more. Once the generator from the Sundstrand APU was online supplying the 115 VAC to Bus 1 and 2, it took only a momentary twist of the start switch on the lower central panel for the left CF34 to come to life, followed quickly by the right one. All three generators on the Lineage are the same 40 KVA units and are each capable of running the entire aircraft in case of a failure.

The checklist is short, and we were soon headed to PBI’s Runway 9 Left for takeoff. Interestingly, the owner of XTE elected not to include an electronic flight bag on this aircraft, so the crew would be remanded to the old days of looking at paper charts and checklists. The Lineage uses a tiller on the captain’s side for tight turns, but is perfectly controllable on most taxiing routines through the convenient rudder-pedal nosewheel steering. All weights were also preset to kg on this particular aircraft, so I had to convert everything to make sense of it all.

Flying the Lineage

The plan was to depart PBI on an IFR flight plan northwestward toward Lake Okeechobee with a delay en route for airwork before returning to PBI for some approaches and landings. We’d then pick up five more Embraer personnel and head northeast to Teterboro, where the Lineage was due to be shown to a number of potential customers while parked at Jet Aviation.

The first takeoff numbers at PBI showed us weighing in at about 39,000 kg (85,800 pounds) with 7,300 kg (16,094 pounds) of fuel on board. The air temperature was already in the mid-70s after a moderate rain had soaked the ramp, now steaming ahead of an approaching cold front. On takeoff, the throttles came easily out of my hand as the autothrottles set power for a reduced-thrust takeoff. I used the tiller a bit but could easily have maintained directional control by steering with my feet, something that is unusual in an aircraft this large. The V1 speed worked out to a low 109, Vr 112 and V2 at 119, which the aircraft reached with a takeoff roll of about 12 seconds. Rotation muscle needed was minimal, but of course we were considerably lighter than the Lineage’s 120,000-pound max takeoff weight.

With the nose pitched up to about 15 degrees, the Lineage climbed quickly toward our first altitude restriction of 7,000 feet. As light as we were, we quickly accelerated to 210 knots and by 4,000 feet to 250 knots. I hand flew the first leg to get a feel for how easy it would be to control the aircraft. With little trim needed, the aircraft was easy to hand fly, which I proved by letting go of the yoke a number of times. The Lineage remained where I’d set it, even in the turn to the west out of PBI and as I maneuvered around a number of towering cumulus lingering after the morning’s rain.

Once we reached 16,000 feet, Miami Center provided us with a segment of airspace for airwork. I slowed the aircraft to 200 knots for a series of stalls to the shaker. Maintaining 16,000 feet, I further slowed the aircraft through 160 knots as the yellow band climbed on the airspeed tab to meet our speed, followed quickly by the red indicating the shaker. At 156 knots the shaker went off and I smoothly added full power and lost only about 20 feet in the recovery back to 250 knots to set up for some steep turns. There was almost no noticeable change in pitch as I recovered from the stall but, of course, we all knew it was coming.

I set up for 45-degree banked turns to both the left and right. With the system yelling, “Bank angle, bank angle,” as I pulled through about 50 degrees, a quick flip of the trim tab and I was able to let go of the yoke while I watched the Lineage continue precisely where I’d left it. Too soon it was time to return to PBI for an ILS. I planned to let the automation handle the work this time.

As a reference point, Bacci explained the Lineage flap speeds we’d see on the approach that provide a consistent 1.3 margin over stick shaker. Flaps one go down at 180 knots, flaps two at 160, flaps three at 150 and flaps four and five by 140 knots. Full flaps should be down by the time the aircraft slows to 130 knots. Ref speed was 119 knots. On arrival, the landing distance was factored using only spoilers and brakes, not reversers or auto brakes, yet the distance came in at roughly 3,000 feet.

The first landing off ILS on Runway 9 Left at PBI ended with a touch and go, always fun in a 90,000-pound airplane. The flare was minimal and I learned I could land without disconnecting the autothrottles. Touchdown my first time was smooth, but the Lineage was making everything easy. On the go, I kept my eyes focused outside on the runway as Bacci called go and brought the flaps to the fourth detent. I pushed the throttles up and hit the toga button to reengage the pitch command bars. About the time I finished that small task, he called, “Rotate,” and we were once again airborne, with the gear soon stowing. The final pattern was intended to be a visual, which turned out to be nearly impossible at PBI. We were given a left turn north and a climb to 4,000 feet and sent back to departure control on the crosswind.

At 4,000 feet we were in and out of the cumulus but maintained a speed of 200 knots as I called for flaps one and quickly flaps two, slowing to 175 knots. I switched off the autothrottles and turned base as the gear came down and flaps went to three. The aircraft slowed to 150 knots. With a ref speed of about 120, I crossed the end of the runway hand flying the aircraft at about 123 and eased the throttles back to idle. Another great landing. This airplane was making me look good to the instructors.

As I lowered the nose, I pulled both engines into reverse and we had to taxi up to “kilo” turn off at PBI for the taxi back into Jet Aviation. This was certainly no test of the Lineage’s short-field capabilities, but we needed to return to the ramp for fuel before the leg to Teterboro. I’d be sitting in the jump seat on this trip watching how the Embraer pilots flew.

During the 2+20 flight to TEB I checked fuel flows on the way to our initial cruising altitude of FL370. We planned to cruise at Mach 0.78. At FL370 we were burning just a hair under 1,000 kg per side per hour, or 4,276 pounds per hour total at 451 ktas. The noise level in cruise is extremely low up front. It is louder in the cabin, of course, but still quite comfortable, even in the wayback where the bedroom area is located. If we’d pushed the engines a bit harder, we would have seen about 470 knots at Mach 0.81 with only a minor fuel burn increase. For this trip we burned a total of 5,000 kg (11,000 pounds) of fuel and landed with a 2,000-pound reserve.
To fly the longest stage lengths–6,000 nm plus–such as those of the BBJ, a customer must be ready to hand over a considerably larger chunk of cash. If the owner doesn’t mind one refueling stop along the way,  he can save a bundle on a Lineage. The aircraft delivers fast executive transport and enough room for an entire board of directors to travel in comfort on a long trip without bumping into one another every few minutes during a nine-hour trip. For the money, why
wouldn’t a company look at the Lineage?

Lineage 1000 Competitors
The original Boeing BBJ, a version of the Boeing 737-700, and the ACJ, Airbus’s corporate version of the A319, and the A318 Elite are the most significant alternatives to the Lineage 1000 by virtue of cabin size. The cruise speeds of the airliner-sized business jets are comparable to the Lineage’s Mach 0.82 maximum.

A significant selling point for any of these large aircraft is that they are all built to endure the daily punishment of an airline environment, which often includes eight to 10 landings and dozens of hours of operation. A typical corporate flight operation will seldom task the capabilities of any of these airframes.    

Depending on cruise speeds, the BBJ has the longest legs and can fly between 5,500 and 6,200 nm; the ACJ will fly about 6,000 nm, and the Airbus Elite about 4,200 nm. The Lineage will carry eight passengers about 4,400 nm or four people for 4,500 nm, although it can be configured for as many as 19 passengers. Each aircraft gets the longest range when the thrust levers are pulled way back, often below Mach 0.80.

The Etops-approved Lineage is powered by two GE CF34-10E7-B dual-Fadec- controlled engines, each producing 18,500 pounds of thrust. Important city pairs with eight passengers that illustrate the Lineage’s long legs include New York-São Paulo, London-Dubai, Hong Kong-Sydney, Dubai-Cape Town and Tokyo-Delhi.

The Lineage cabin has a volume just shy of 4,100 cu ft and measures six feet seven inches from floor to ceiling and just under nine feet wide. The cabin is 84.5 feet long, compared with the BBJ’s 79.5 feet and the ACJ’s 78 feet. The Boeing and Airbus, however, have a wider cabin than the Lineage.

Of importance to some potential owners of ultra-large-cabin business airplanes is their operational flexibility. With a landing weight capability of less than 100,000 pounds and wing span of less than 100 feet, the Lineage is the only one of the four airliners allowed to operate at Teterboro Airport.

Another important option to those with Europe as a regular destination, the Lineage and the Airbus Elite are the only aircraft in this category certified for the steep approach into London City Airport.

The Lineage is also the only ultra-large-cabin aircraft capable of operating into Aspen, where landing weight and wing-span restrictions apply.

Currently, Lineage training is being conducted using JetBlue E190 simulators in the U.S. and another sim at Swiss Aviation Training in Zurich. The E-Jet aircraft all share a common pilot type rating.

Aircraft support facilities are already established on nearly every continent. In the U.S., Nashville and Fort Lauderdale are authorized to work on the E190, while in Europe the locations are at Alverca, Portugal and Villepinte, France. In the Middle East, it’s Abu Dhabi in the U.A.E., with Singapore covering the Asian front and the two factory facilities in Brazil at Gaviao Peixoto and São José dos Campos. 

Pilot Report: Embraer Lineage 1000