Work is progressing on Embraer’s newest offering, the midsize Legacy 500, and the Brazilian airframer says it is on schedule to fly the $18.4 million twinjet by year-end. Designed to fill the gap in the manufacturer’s lineup between the $8 million light Phenom 300 and the large-cabin $25- to $29 million Legacy 600/650, the Legacy 500 and its slightly smaller sibling, the Legacy 450, were announced as concepts at NBAA in 2007, and the pair of jets was formally launched half a year later.
At a pre-NBAA tour at the company’s São José dos Campos headquarters near the end of August, Embraer showed off the fuselage of the first prototype of the midsize jet, which was about to receive its wings. In a nearby hangar, the type’s second prototype had just completed the mating of its three fuselage sections.
The 500 will enter testing first, to be followed, according to plans, a year later by the mid-light 450. The pair are clean-sheet designs that are intended to have 95 percent systems commonality, and Embraer is staggering their development so as to not have to make any design changes (if required) to both aircraft. Due to the high similarity planned for the two twinjets, the manufacturer intends to achieve a common type rating for the pair just as it did with its E170 and E190 commercial jets.
In addition to sharing the Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion cockpit with synthetic-vision system and sidestick flight controls, both twinjets will feature full fly-by-wire (FBW) flight control systems that will offer a wide range of pilot and operator benefits such as optimized performance, enhanced flight safety, enhanced passenger comfort and reduced operating costs.
Embraer has experience with FBW, having introduced the technology for the rudder and spoiler of its AMX military jet developed during the 1980s and in its 170/190 class E-Jets and Lineage 1000, which feature FBW flight control in the pitch and yaw axis.
Full FBW systems are currently in use on the Boeing 777 and 787 as well as on Airbuses and, in the business aviation realm, on the Dassault Falcon 7X and Gulfstream’s G650. Embraer’s introduction of the system on the 500 and 450 will make these the only aircraft below the $50 million price bracket to offer such technology.
The FBW applications on the new jets will include rudder, spoilers, elevators, flaps, ailerons and horizontal stabilizer, providing closed-loop control on all three axes and allowing maximum maneuvering capability in the aircraft’s normal flight envelope.
With the side stick in neutral, the system will maintain trajectory, compensate for pitch and yaw in turns and automatically compensate for roll with sideslip. If the sidestick is moved out of neutral for maneuvering, once it is returned to neutral it will gradually move the airplane back to within the “soft limits” of the normal flight envelope. In case of dual or conflicting input from the pilot and co-pilot, the system will issue tactile, aural and visual warnings.
The FBW system’s angle-of-attack limiter will provide stall protection by permitting lower margins over the airplane’s stall speed limits, which will permit the aircraft to employ lower landing and takeoff speeds. Embraer calculated that for operations at airports with limited runway length such as London City, application of the angle-of-attack limiter will result in an increase in usable payload of nearly 1,000 pounds.
During an engineering test simulator demonstration at Embraer’s engineering facility, the aircraft’s FBW system quickly responded and compensated when faced with an engine-out-on-takeoff scenario. Such quick responsiveness will also reduce oscillations during turbulence to improve passenger comfort. Through the adoption of the FBW system and its built-in envelope protections, the OEM was also able to gain weight savings in structure due to lower loads in specific areas.
Leggiest Model in Its Class
In terms of range, the aircraft designers had firm goals in mind, according to Cláudio Camelier, Embraer’s vice president for market and product strategy. “These airplanes were defined on very clear product requirements. For the Legacy 500 we wanted this airplane to be a real U.S. coast-to-coast-capable airplane that could fly with a full passenger load in any wind condition.”
The Legacy 500 is expected to have a 3,000-nm range with four passengers and 2,800-nm range with eight passengers. According to Camelier, that will make the Legacy 500 the longest range aircraft in its class and endow it with only slightly shorter legs than the super-midsize Bombardier Challenger 300 and Hawker 4000. The Legacy 500 will be able to fly city pairs such as Los Angeles-Honolulu and New York-London.
Interior Defined by Customers
In the four years since the Legacy 450/500 were introduced, the interior, which was designed in conjunction with BMW Group Designworks USA, has been refined based on customer feedback obtained in surveys. The cockpit, as seen in the mockup at the company’s booth (No. N5132), is “99 percent representative,” according to Alvadi Serpa, Jr., head of the company’s 450 and 500 strategy team.
The selection of the sidestick control not only adds to the feeling of spaciousness in the cockpit but also resulted in weight savings when combined with the FBW system.
Unique among their respective classes, the 450 and 500, which share the same fuselage cross section, will offer a flat-floor, stand-up cabin and a 6,000-foot cabin altitude at the aircraft’s maximum altitude of 45,000 feet. The 500 can seat up to 10 passengers with an optional belted lavatory seat.
Options include either eight seats in a dual-club arrangement, or four seats plus either one or two divans replacing a pair or all of the second set of seats. Each facing pair of seats can be folded down and combined to make a full-length flat bed. The 500 also offers a wet galley with hot and cold water and can be equipped with microwave and convection ovens, a refrigerator and an espresso maker. A range of real stone flooring options is available for the galley area.
Overhead, the cabin features separate upwash, downwash and valance lighting, which can be dimmed or adjusted in various lighting tones. The passenger entertainment system has 12 speakers plus subwoofer arranged around the cabin for surround-sound capability. The high-definition video system can play media from the iPod dock, a Blu-ray disc player or from a variety of consumer electronic devices streamed through an auxiliary panel located above the foldout tables. Touchscreen passenger control units located at each seating position provide control for audio and video, lights, window shades, seat temperature and lumbar support.
The baggage capacity of 150 cu ft is the same for both the Legacy 450 and 500. The main externally accessible compartment is eight feet long and has a volume of 110 cu ft, with optional heating available. The 40-cu-ft heated and pressurized internal baggage area is accessible in flight through the lavatory compartment.
Brazilian ANAC and FAA certification of the Legacy 500 is anticipated in the second half of next year, with the 450 to follow about a year later.