NBAA Convention News

Orders for Phenoms build

 - November 7, 2006, 5:05 AM

One year after Embraer announced that it was jumping into the VLJ and light jet markets with a capital commitment of more than $200 million, the company has built a solid order book for its Phenom 100 and Phenom 300 models. The latest major order before the NBAA Convention was announced last month when Embraer revealed that Houston-based Magnum Jet has placed a $137 million order for 50 Phenom 100s and options for 50 more.

The positions on the four- to seven-passenger Phenom 100 are convertible to the larger six- to nine-passenger Phenom 300, according to Embraer. The Magnum contract brings the total orders for both Phenom models to 235, not counting any additional orders announced here at the show. It parallels an identical order Embraer received earlier this summer from Geneva-based JetBird. Both orders are expected to start deliveries in 2009.

While Embraer has been building orders, it also has been making substantial development progress on both aircraft. Assembly of the first Phenom 100 is scheduled for the first quarter of next year, with the first flight expected by mid-year. This past June the company announced that it had made its first metal cut on the 100.

The part in question was a fuselage component that connects to an engine pylon. Embraer milled the part from a high-speed, five-axis machining center that received data directly from the digital mockup. The part was then validated against the digital mockup using ultrasound and laser.

Three weeks later, Pratt & Whitney Canada completed the first test run of the PW617F turbofan (1,615 pounds of thrust), slated to power the 100. The PW617F is designed with 50 percent fewer parts compared with other engines with similar pressure ratios. It is based on the PW600 family of engines that also powers the Cessna and Eclipse VLJs. The engine is now in an extensive test qualification program and certification is expected in next year’s fourth quarter.

Wind-tunnel testing on the Phenom 100 has been completed at the University of Washington Aeronautical Laboratory, Brazil’s General Command for Aerospace Technology and the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI) in Zhukovsky, Russia. The TsAGI wind tunnels validated the Embraer Model 170 and 190 to within 1 percent of later flight test data.

Embraer has already held certification discussions and filed applications with Brazil’s National Agency for Civil Aviation, the FAA and EASA.

The Phenom 300 will be powered by the PW535E (3,200 pounds of thrust), which is already in service on the Cessna Citation Bravo.

Through the end of August, 25 percent of the EMB 100’s drawings had been released, covering critical structures such as spars, ribs, frames, skin, stiffeners and systems installation. Manufacture of the aircraft’s final assembly rigs has begun as has production workforce training at Embraer’s “virtual reality center,” where workers receive mock instruction on manufacturing the light jet.

Progress also continues on Phenom 300 development, with that aircraft scheduled for 2009 certification. The joint definition phase (JDP) to date has covered market requirements, main structural design and materials, main aerodynamic configurations, performance and flying aspects, weight status, structural and load analysis, and systems architecture and installation. Continuing Phenom 300 JDP work includes wind tunnel testing at Russia’s TsAGi, quality and manufacturing design review and conception of the main assembly rigs.

In June Embraer convened an advisory board of pilots and aircraft owners to evaluate the Prodigy flight deck (based on the Garmin G1000 system) as part of its continued product development. The system features three interchangeable 12-inch displays, two primary flight displays and one multifunction flight display. The system integrates all primary flight, navigation, communication, terrain, traffic, weather, engine instrumentation and crew alerting data.

Both the 100 and 300 employ a common tube diameter (61 inches in the interior). For its design, Embraer turned to BMW DesignWorksUSA in Newbury Park, Calif. BMW’s challenge was to make the 4-foot, 11-inch-high cabins look bigger, more comfortable and more relaxing.

BMW employed automotive-style accents, LED lighting and single-piece sidewalls and headliners to create an illusion of space. Chrome strips bracketing the floor make the cabin appear longer and emphasize the extended space into the cockpit. Chrome accents extend into the cockpit and are used on the Phenoms’ “ram-horn” control yokes and rudder pedals.

Hidden, retractable cup holders are built into the cabin side ledges, which are themselves wide enough to hold personal electronic devices and telephones and contain storage nooks. These structures also house PC power outlets, headset jack points and cabin lighting and temperature controls. Embraer plans to make audio on-demand and satellite radio systems available for both aircraft.

The curious-looking, offset headrests are purposely designed to support passengers’ heads as they tilt toward cabin sidewalls while looking out the windows or napping.

During the interior design phase, BMW collaborated closely with Embraer and even convinced the OEM to make the lower fuselage more ovoid to improveleg room.

Three cabin layouts are available for the 100, while two are currently offered for the 300. Both aircraft can be configured for executive or shuttle service and both can be equipped with small refreshment centers and lavatories. A few more bells and whistles are available on the 300 when it comes to the galley and the lavatory. The 300’s galley can be equipped with a hot jug and a wine rack.

The 18-inch-wide passenger seats are common to both aircraft. In addition to the unusual headrests, they feature longitudinal tracking, adjustable recline from 8 to 20 degrees, integral three-point seatbelts, breakover backs and inboard armrests. Maximum seat pitch in the 100 is 35 inches, while in the 300 it is 42 inches. The 300 also provides three more inches between the seats than the 100.