Amid the debris of an international economic slump and financial crisis, Brazilian business jet manufacturer Embraer is just weeks away from certification and initial deliveries of its new Phenom 300 small-cabin light jet.
Asked at the Latin American Business Aviation Association Conference & Exhibition (LABACE) in August whether he would care to offer a more exact date for certification than “before the end of the year,” Embraer Executive Jets executive v-p Luis Carlos Affonso politely declined. “We’ve been saying the last half of 2009 all along and we’re comfortable with that,” he said with a broad smile, adding that the company expects to deliver one or two before the end of the year.
The swept-wing Phenom 300, now priced at $7.868 million, was rolled out for its first flight at Embraer’s Gavião Pexioto facility in May 2008, with a price tag at that time of $6.65 million. European aviation authority requirements will add approximately $300,000 to the price. The avionics suite is Embraer’s Prodigy, which is based on the Garmin G1000 package; refueling is through a single point; and the lavatory is externally serviced.
Today, there are five aircraft in the test flight program, and at LABACE Embraer showed on the static display line the first 300 with a finished interior created in partnership with BMW DesignWorks USA.
Affonso said that after more than 900 flight-test hours, Embraer expects the Phenom 300 to meet all the projected numbers, and he added, “We fully expect it will exceed some, just as the Phenom 100 [already certified] did.” He is also quick to point out that the Phenom 300 is not an enlarged copy of the smaller Phenom 100, but a clean-sheet airplane.
Powered by twin Pratt & Whitney Canada PW535 turbofans, the Phenom 300 was originally designed for a max cruise speed of Mach 0.78 (450 knots), certified ceiling of 45,000 feet and 10-passenger max capacity. The range of 1,800 nm with six passengers would allow nonstop flight between Chicago and Dallas or London and Athens.
Test-flight milestones recently passed include high-speed flutter, crosswind takeoff and landing, cold soak, external and internal noise levels, lightning strike and exploration of the high-altitude flight envelope.Embraer has maintained a tight-lipped silence with regard to the order book, saying only that combined orders for both the Phenom 100 and Phenom 300 total more than 800 airplanes.
U.S. fractional operator Flight Options holds a firm order for 100 Phenom 300s and expects to take its first delivery next month. Executive AirShare, also a fractional operator, has orders for six Phenom 300s and is already taking first deliveries of a larger order of Phenom 100s.
Affonso said as a result of some cancellations and a smaller-than-anticipated number of new orders, the order book remains in the 800-aircraft range. This will also result in a shrinking backlog through 2009 and 2010, and he does not expect a significant increase before 2011.
With estimates by business jet manufacturers and analysts of a 4-percent rate of growth in demand for business jets in Latin America over the next decade, Embraer anticipates a bright future in that part of the world for its growing stable of aircraft, including the Phenom 300.