The Embraer Phenom 100

We feature popular aircraft available for private charter on a regular basis. For a complete directory please visit our extensive aircraft guide, at elevatecharter.com/aircraft-guide. Following our look inside one of the industry’s timeless business aircraft, this month we turn our attention to one of the newer jets on the market and a reminder that big things often come in small packages.

The Embraer Phenom 100 is a little dynamo of sorts. Introduced in 2005 and first delivered three years later, Brazilian based Embraer recently celebrated the tenth anniversary of its first Phenom 100 delivery. 364 aircraft were delivered to the middle of 2018.

The Embraer Phenom 100.

The Embraer Phenom 100.

Hot almost straight out of the gate, more Phenom 100s were delivered than any other business aircraft two years after certification. That’s an impressive feat for a jet that seats just 4 passengers (5 with the belted lavatory seat, and up to 6 in a single-pilot operation). The Phenom was the first entry-level or “very light jet” to change perceptions that small jet = small cabin.

Approaching the Phenom 100 one is surprised by the size of what is after all a typically 4-seater aircraft.

Approaching the Phenom 100 one is surprised by the size of what is after all a typically 4-seater aircraft.

The short stubby design may have you fooled until you walk on board. The cabin height is an impressive 5.1 feet, the windows large to permit an abundance of natural light. The Phenom also features a fully private lavatory in the rear of the cabin with a rigid door. The cabin and seating arrangements were designed by BMW DesignworksUSA and feature large high-back chairs. A wardrobe is interchangeable with a refreshment center. There are separate climate zones for crew and passengers with personal air conditioning vents, and two power outlets. In back the aircraft’s baggage compartment can fit four sets of golf bags or two pairs of skis, four carry-on bags, four garment bags and four laptop bags.

Tall seats and an interior designed by BMW make the Phenom 100 quite comfortable overall.

Tall seats and an interior designed by BMW make the Phenom 100 quite comfortable overall.

Performance is naturally a compromise for a jet of this size. The aircraft can reach 41,000 feet, flying above most of the weather and air traffic. Range is limited at 1,356 miles (1,178 nautical miles) with 4 passengers, but then this is not an aircraft you’d want to sit in for more than a couple of hours anyhow. But since the aircraft can depart from airports with runways as short as 3,190 feet this jet can get you into and out of places most others cannot. Getting to 41,000 feet with 4 passengers typically takes around 30 minutes (the latest variant, the 100EV cuts that down to 25 minutes). The aircraft travels at 448 mph, or about 70% of the speed of sound (a typical commercial jet can do around 80% of the speed of sound, and larger business jets even faster). This reminds the passenger that for all of the Phenom’s passenger-friendly amenities and airport advantages it was never designed to be all things to all people.

Our recent flight in the Phenom 100 tested the aircraft’s range. We stopped for fuel enroute and cooled our heals while the brakes cooled for about 45 minutes. This is typical procedure for aircraft that do not have built-in thrust-reversers, a mechanism common to most larger jets that helps slow the aircraft on landing and take stress off the brakes. Newer variants have incorporated multifunction wing spoilers to help out some.

Still, the Phenom is an impressive little aircraft. We couldn’t get over the new plane smell (yes, similar to new car smell) and ergonomically designed cabin that was sufficiently quiet in flight. For short flights with up to 4 passengers we kept asking, why spend the money to go larger? But that’s an entirely different debate.