Tom Horne

Phenom time

February 12, 2009 by Thomas A. Horne, Editor At Large

I’m currently in Brazil, at Embraer’s Sao Jose dos Campos plant. But today I flew on the company shuttle ( a Brasilia) to Embraer’s Gavaio Peixoto airport (SBGP)/factory/flight test center to fly the Phenom 100. The plane I flew was prototype number 1, and loaded with racks of flight test instrumentation. Anyway, the weather was somehat crappy, what with a 500-foot ceiling and torrential rain. It came down in buckets, filling the SBGP water-test trench in seconds. It is summer here, you know.

Aboard were Embraer captain Luiz Cesar, communications strategy advisor Danial Bachmann, and flight test engineer Maximilian Kleinubung. Kleinubung wanted me to do some 5- and 3-degree banked turns for auopilot data, but that wasn’t to be, as we’ll see.

The flight gave me a chance to fly the G1000 Prodigy avionics, which featured a test version of SVS and HITS imagery/cues. Got in two instrument approaches–both in anger (i.e. real IFR weather, not rage at the approaches themselves)–an ILS to Campinas Airport, an an RNAV back into SBGP. There was turbulence, but the P100 rode it well. The onboard Garmin radar served us well, too.

The trip to Campinas was vector-laden and procedurally complicated, and the weather helped in setting me to make peace with the G1000 in a high-workload environment. You can’t beat this kind of dual.

All the vectoring, and a low approach, made us burn up a lot of fuel in the fuel-unfriendly low-altitude environment. So there was no time for stalls or single-engine work. Let along the autopilot data. So it was up to 340 for some cruise numbers, then back to SBGP. In all, a great way to spend the day. And a fine airplane.

By tomorrow, the front is supposed to pass to the northeast, and skies will hopefully clear well enough for those stalls and V1 cuts.


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