September 27, 2013
By Thomas A. Horne
At a press event held at Embraer’s manufacturing site in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil, company officials suggested they would reveal big news about its business jet line at the upcoming National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) convention.
Improvements to the Phenom 100 will apparently be significant enough to warrant offering what Embraer is calling a “Phenom 100 2014 edition.” Similarly, new features associated with the latest mid-sized models—the Legacy 450 and Legacy 500—will also be revealed at the NBAA convention, which will take place Oct. 22 through 24 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Nevada. Not to be left out, Embraer’s top-of-the-line, 4,400-nautical-mile Lineage 1000 is also in for big changes.
On static display at Embraer’s ramp was Legacy 500 serial No. 2, one of the new airplane’s three test aircraft. This particular airplane is being used for flutter and in-flight thrust tests; serial No. 1 is being used for fly-by-wire and icing tests; serial No. 3 is undergoing avionics and function and reliability tests. So far, the Legacy 500 program has logged 650 hours in flight test, almost halfway to the anticipated total of 1,500 hours.
A visit to the Legacy 500 “iron bird” test rig gave AOPA Pilot the chance to see the airplane’s hydraulic, electrical, FADEC, flight control, and air management systems being tested for integrity. The iron bird has been testing the 500’s systems since 2010—long before the real airplane’s first flight—and now tests run concurrently with flight tests on the actual airplane. So far, so good, says Embraer test pilot Eduardo Camelier.
“The aerodynamics and final configuration of the airplane are frozen,” he said. “The FAA was here three weeks ago, and the European certification authorities were here last week, to make progress checks, and they were satisfied.” The iron bird has recorded more than 4,500 systems checks, with more to go. The same iron bird will be used for system integration tests of the upcoming Legacy 450, which has a large quota of systems and design commonalities.
The Legacy 500 iron bird interfaces with a Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion cockpit, which is set up as a simulator to enable pilot-interface trials. AOPA Pilot got a chance to fly the simulator and experience the 500’s fly-by-wire flying characteristics, flight envelope protection features, and four-screen displays. A follow-up report on the Legacy 500 will appear in a future issue of the magazine.
First deliveries of the $19.95 million, 3,000-nm Legacy 500 are set to take place in the second quarter of 2014.
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne has worked at AOPA since the early 1980s. He began flying in 1975 and has an airline transport pilot and flight instructor certificates. He’s flown everything from ultralights to Gulfstreams and ferried numerous piston airplanes across the Atlantic.
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