Legacy 500 Nearing First Flight
Embraer’s quest for a complete business jet portfolio took a major step forward in March with the start of taxi tests of Legacy 500 serial number 001 at the Brazilian OEM’s São Jose dos Campos plant.
The Legacy 500 program was launched here at EBACE in 2008, along with that of its smaller sister the Legacy 450. Both programs have advanced steadily since, though on separate timeline tracks, the 500 slightly less than six months ahead. Here at EBACE 2012, visitors can walk through a full-size cabin mockup of the Legacy 500 at the Embraer exhibit (Stand 7041).
The two airplanes share much in common, including Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion cockpit avionics, full fly-by-wire controls and twin HTF7500 engines from Honeywell as standard. Some of the shared optional equipment includes: synthetic vision, head-up guidance, enhanced vision, vertical navigation, autothrottle, Waas, integrated flight instrument system, EICAS, graphical flight planning, autobrakes and a central maintenance computer for faster and easier troubleshooting.
The goal, said Embraer, is “ninety-five percent systems commonality for line replacement units.” More than that, commonality in terms of pilot ergonomics includes cockpit layout and position of displays and controls, avionics function, architecture and philosophy, operational procedures, aircraft feel and handling and pilot techniques.
The interiors also have much in common, starting with a full-flat floor and six feet of headroom in a cabin that is 6 feet 10 inches wide. The single major difference is in the length. The 500’s cabin is 26 feet 10 inches long and will accommodate nine passengers in a typical configuration, while the 450’s measures 22 feet 5 inches in length and carries seven passengers. Optional in both airplanes is a belted toilet seat to accommodate an additional passenger.
Because it is longer, the 500 will allow for an optional three-place side-facing divan. The seats in both airplanes will fully recline to allow for naps.
Both the 500 and the 450 will be equipped with Honeywell’s Ovation Select cabin-management system with a full high-definition video system. In the galley, Blu-ray players and iPod docking stations act as video media sources. Audio can be streamed from iPod, iPhones, memory sticks, CDs and XM radio receptors capable of interface with the aircraft auxiliary panel. All cabin functions can be controlled through touch-screen passenger control units.
While both airplanes are equipped with Honeywell’s HTF7500E engines, those of the 500 are rated at 6,500 pounds takeoff thrust and those of the lighter 450 at 6,080 pounds of takeoff thrust. This alone suggests a difference in performance, as noted in the charts.
And as might be imagined, there is also a price difference: the 500 at $19.875 million and the 450 at $16.47. Embraer describes the 500 as a mid-size aircraft and the 450 as a mid-light.
The Legacy 500 program’s fly-by-wire development is on track, said Marco Pellegrini, senior v-p of operations and COO for Embraer Executive Jets in a media briefing in March.
Fly-by-wire is a major component of the 500 and 450, with Embraer’s experience dating back to the 1980s with development of the AMX attack jet, which had fly-by-wire rudder and spoilers. Further fly-by-wire controls were part of the company’s E-Jet family of single-aisle airliners. The 500 and 450 are the first full fly-by-wire Embraer jets.
Embraer places emphasis on the system’s “flight path stable” capability. Within the so-called normal flight envelope, the system will maintain the flight path vector when the side-stick is in the neutral position by use of an auto-trim function. Also within the normal flight envelope, the system provides automatic pitch and yaw compensation in turns, as well as automatic roll compensation with sideslip. Further, it will maintain current bank angle when the side stick is released back to the neutral position.
In addition to fly-by-wire, Embraer has elected to replace the conventional yoke or center stick with side-stick controls for both pilot and copilot. The side-stick architecture is such that input from pilot and co-pilot are summed and there are aural and visual warnings in case of dual input. Tactile force feedback is provided via a fixed spring and damper.
The Legacy 500 first flight is anticipated in the third quarter 2012 and certification and entry into service in late 2013 or early 2014.
The 450 program follows that of the 500 but is advancing more quickly as technology and lessons learned with its larger sister are quickly applied in the 450. The first Legacy 450 flight is anticipated in the second quarter 2013 and entry into service in the second quarter 2014.