Embraer Phenom 300
Embraer had delivered 400 Phenom 300s by the end of March, including more than 265 in just the previous four years, during which time the model became the world’s bestselling light jet. It is also the new darling of the fractional jet ownership business.
The Brazilian aircraft—examples of which are now based in 30 countries—owes its success to three main attributes: it’s fast, it has great operating economics, and it rarely breaks down. Because of its popularity, buying a Phenom 300 used might not save you as much as you’d expect; the average 2012 model has lost only 30 percent of its value compared with, say, 56 percent depreciation on the same year’s Learjet 40XR, according to the valuation service Vref.
That said, you get a lot of airplane for the money with a preowned 300. Embraer entered the light-jet market in 2005, promising more for less, and the Phenom 300 delivers. The aircraft—which was certified in 2009 and now sells new for $9.1 million—sports a well-equipped, comfortable cabin with options typically found only in airplanes costing millions more. It can be flown single-pilot, boasts a range of nearly 2,000 nautical miles, has a maximum speed of 453 knots, climbs to a ceiling of 45,000 feet in just 26 minutes, and features optional cabin seating for seven.
The 300 represents about 25 percent of the fleet at fractional operator Flexjet, which has been flying the aircraft since 2010 and, as of March, operated 44 of them. A Flexjet spokesman calls the airplane “a steadfast workhorse” and says its 300 fleet delivers 99 percent dispatch reliability. He adds that “Phenom owners know that when they show up at the airport they will be on their way,” as opposed to dealing with a maintenance issue.
Flexjet notes that owners say they view the aircraft as a superior value due to its cabin room, range, short-field performance, and baggage capacity. “An owner can bring six friends on a golfing trip,” says its spokesman, “and they all can put their clubs and luggage into the huge baggage compartment. The Phenom can use shorter runways and operate at higher altitudes than larger jets and in extreme temperatures. In other words, it can use airports that other jets cannot.”
For an aircraft in the light-jet category, the Phenom 300 offers a generous selection of cabin options. Customers can select from a variety of fabric and color combinations, and cabins feature enclosed, pleated window shades; Ultraleather upper sidewalls; carpet or wood floors; laminate, gloss, or veneer cabinet finishes; and carpeted or fabric-covered lower sidewalls. In-flight entertainment offerings include satellite radio; seat power outlets; audio jacks for personal devices, speakers, and subwoofers; and a VIP control panel. There are separate passenger and cockpit environmental controls. Although the air conditioning lacks an auxiliary power unit, it functions well on the ground with one engine operating at idle.
The 18-inch-wide cabin seats feature longitudinal tracking, adjustable recline, three-point seatbelts, breakover backs, and inboard armrests. Maximum seat pitch is 42 inches. The 300’s two basic floor plans accommodate six to nine passengers (the latter number with one in the copilot seat) and customers can choose between a full wardrobe or a sink in the externally serviced lavatory. The 300’s galley can be equipped with a hot jug and a wine rack. In 2016, Embraer introduced more robust sidewall table design, a new side ledge with wood veneer, a new cup holder design, relocated power outlets and charging USB ports, and an optional mirror on the back wall that makes the cabin appear more spacious.
Beginning this year, a program called ACE (an acronym for Aircraft Customization by Embraer), initially developed for the smaller Phenom 100, is available for used 300s. ACE allows owners to select a racing-style exterior paint scheme and new lightweight cabinets in the galley and lav, premium seating with oversized and more comfortable cushioning, and updated in-flight connectivity options.
One such option is the Iridium telephone system, which offers satellite and public network access for calls and text messaging through a dedicated handset in the cabin or the cockpit’s audio panels and multifunction display. The system not only connects passengers but also enables live engine and aircraft maintenance monitoring datalinks to Embraer and engine maker Pratt & Whitney Canada.
Another available upgrade involves replacing the standard lavatory with a structurally reinforced, belted, flushing toilet that provides an additional passenger seat certified for use on takeoff and landing. This allows the Phenom 300 to carry up to 10 occupants. The lavatory can be retrofitted with a sink with running water and a six-slot coat hanger.
Customers who buy a used 300 from Embraer PreFlown Executive Jets can include the cost of interior refurbishments in the financing and avoid buy-in expenses for the company’s hourly maintenance plan. That’s a pretty nice deal.
Older 300s came with the Garmin G1000 Prodigy glass-panel avionics system. However, in 2013 Embraer began offering the option of a Garmin G3000-based Prodigy Touch avionics suite, a highly desirable upgrade that boosts resale value by $200,000 to $250,000. The system features three 14.1-inch displays—two primary flight displays and a multifunction display. All are capable of split-screen functionality to show additional information, such as maps, charts, electronic documents, system synoptics, and flight plans, alongside basic data.The system also features two 5.7-inch touchscreen controllers that serve as the primary data-entry points with easy-to-read icons and a simple menu structure.
The G3000 cockpits are more than just different screens in the panel; the switchology is streamlined, simplified, and much improved. If you plan on operating the aircraft single pilot, strongly consider a late-model 300 with these avionics.
But no matter what Phenom 300 you select, you will be getting an aircraft that remains first in class, thanks to great performance and a manufacturer that invests in frequent upgrades and product support.
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