Tom Horne

A pushin’ Phenom

February 13, 2009 by Thomas A. Horne, Editor At Large

Well, today the skies lifted slightly in southeast Brazil, and so my second Phenom 100 flight came off as planned. Today, I flew with Embraer’s Luiz Cesar to FL350 for some cruise speed checks. Conditions were ISA +15 degrees C. and this excursion from standard conditions at that altitude proved how critical temperature is to turbine performance. Our high-speed cruise today at that alititude yielded 352 KTAS, which was better than the book’s 346 KTAS… but still well below the airplane’s advertised, 390-KTAS max cruise speed. That number, of course, is for colder conditions where engines develop more thrust. So a caution: advertised max cruise speeds are based on optimal conditions.

A series of stalls showed off the Phenom 100′s stall protection system. At 15,000 feet, I slowed the airplane to 135 KIAS, then reduced power while holding altitude. As the Phenom slowed through 102 KIAS the aural “stall, stall” warning came on. This happened twice while I continued to slow the airplane. Then, as airspeed dropped through 97 KIAS, the pusher fired. The stick pusher system is designed to automatically–and forcefully–lower the nose and break the stall. And so it did. The control yoke slammed forward, I applied power, and slowly added aft stick pressure to recover. Pull back on the yoke too fast, Cesar says, and you’re asking for a “roller-coaster ride” as the airplane can enter a secondary stall–and another hefty push from the stick pusher. I lost 700 feet during the recovery. I’m told this is normal. After all, the pusher aims the nose downward agressively.

The other highlight today was an actual-IMC single-engine climbout after a touch-and-go. Flight test equipment on board registered my stomping on the rudder to the tune of 70 pounds! That’s a workout. The rudder requirement lessened as speed built, initial climb power was reduced, rudder trim was applied, and the GFC 700 autopilot was engaged. Then it was a matter of re-intercepting the initial approach fix for the RNAV approach to the Gavaiao Peixoto airport and flying the procedure. Our initial single-engine rate of climb: 700 fpm. And this, from someone who’s never flown a Phenom 100 before.

As if on cue, the skies opened and there was rain aplenty. Our target Vref for the subsequent RNAV approach was 109 KIAS. It took a good amount of power to recover this speed after it sagged below 109–thanks to the high drag of the landing gear, the loss of one engine’s power, and a lapse in vigilance on my part. But the landing was uneventful, and another testimony to the airplane’s simple procedures—as long as you know the G1000 thoroughly, and keep an eagle-eye on airspeed trends!

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