AIN had the opportunity to fly in Embraer’s Legacy 500 test aircraft (serial number 4) on April 8 at the manufacturer’s headquarters in São José dos Campos, Brazil. The first-ever press flight in the type had to be granted special authorization from the Brazilian aviation authority ANAC as it previously was restricted to Embraer’s flight-test team.
What was most impressive during the flight was the spaciousness of the 1,165-cu-ft (33 cu m) cabin. Measuring 6 feet high (1.82 m) and 6 feet 10 inches wide (2.08 m), the cabin in the new model offers almost as much space as a larger, more expensive super-midsized jet, said Embraer Executive Jets senior manager product strategy Augusto Salgado.
The test aircraft is on display at this week’s EBACE show, but with only five of the six leather passenger seats as one seat is still assigned to a flight engineer and various bits of test instrumentation. There’s also an optional divan on the left side of the cabin.
Aircraft 004 is still part of the flight test program, which includes three other airplanes. The Legacy 500 is due to enter service in mid-year.
The seat this AIN reporter occupied on the demonstration flight, and the one in front of it, could recline fully to form a bed. The takeoff run seemed a lot shorter than the stated 4,600 feet (1,400 m), although there was only 799 gallons of fuel on board and the large baggage compartment (150 cu ft; 4.23 cu m) was empty.
The climb at an impressive 25 degrees took the aircraft to 15,000 feet in a few minutes. Ground speed at this altitude was between 287 and 296 knots and fuel consumption was between 105 and 115 gallons per hour.
In the cabin, the noise level was very low and the pressurization at 6,000 feet cabin altitude, less than that of most Legacy 500 competitors, was appreciated.
The $20 million aircraft offers the latest generation of in-flight entertainment with Honeywell’s Ovation Select Cabin Connection suite. This system has fully integrated audio (surround sound) and video (HD) and is equipped with two Blu-Ray players, and a touchscreen-controlled cabin management system. Like many business jets on the market, connectivity is via Inmarsat, Aircell or Iridium services.
The flight was very smooth thanks to the fully fly-by-wire flight control system, which AIN also saw under development on Embraer’s iron-bird testbed. Despite it being a fine day with little turbulence, the pilot was able to demonstrate the advantages afforded by having such a system. “It is definitely easier to fly,” said the chief pilot.
Landing after the 45-minute flight, we had burned 610 kg of fuel (198.9 gallons), so a little bit less than the 703 kilos (229.3 gallons) claimed by Embraer’s website for a four-passenger/two-crew, 300-nm, 46-minute flight.