The Brazilian airframe manufacturer’s first foray into the super-midsize segment is impressive. Announced at EBACE 2008 in Geneva and due to enter service in late 2012, Embraer is positioning the $19 million Legacy 500 to be the value leader in the super-midsize class. It features a 26.8-ft.-long passenger cabin with a 6.0-ft. height and 6.9-ft. width, thus its cross section is between that of the Hawker 4000 and Bombardier Challenger 300 while its cabin is slightly longer. Its 860-cu.-ft. cabin volume equals that of the Challenger 300.

The Legacy 500 has a flat floor, the largest windows in class and a 6,000-ft. cabin altitude at maximum cruise altitude, the same as the currently class-leading Hawker 4000. Similar to other super-midsize aircraft, there are two main seating sections, plus a full galley up front and a full-width lavatory with a window in the aft cabin. It has a 110-cu.-ft. aft external baggage compartment that is not accessible in flight because it is aft of the rear pressure bulkhead. But the aircraft has an additional 40 cu. ft. of carry-on luggage space for laptops and personal items.

The cabin will be available with five interior seating configurations, including various combinations of two-place club chairs and three-seat divans. A two-seat, right-side divan may be ordered in place of the forward galley. A belted potty seat will be an option.

Embraer estimates that the aircraft will have a 2,800-nm eight passenger range when cruising at Mach 0.80, but the firm is notorious for understating the performance of its business aircraft prior to certification. This aircraft may roll out with close to a 3,000-nm cruising range, in BCA’s opinion. Full fuel payload is 1,600 lb.

Both the Legacy 500 and the smaller, shorter range Legacy 500 are powered by Honeywell HTF7500E turbofan engines. The firm predicts the Legacy 500 will have a 4,600-ft. takeoff field length, assuming standard day conditions. That’s best-in-class runway performance. It also will be able to climb directly to FL 430 in 22 min.

The Legacy 500 and its shorter-range sibling, the Legacy 450, are the first aircraft in this class to be fitted with digital flight control systems and side control sticks. They also will be equipped with Embraer’s Prodigy flight deck, featuring four 15-in., landscape configuration Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion flat-panel display avionics. Synthetic vision, autothrottles and graphical flight planning are standard. Laptop computers will support Embraer’s comprehensive OPERA flight planning software that fine tunes runway and climb performance computations.

Options include Collins MultiScan weather radar with predictive wind shear, RNP 0.3 certification, HF radio, HUD with enhanced vision system, data-link graphical weather and FMS performance computer.

Because of its price point, Embraer is positioning the Legacy 500 as a direct competitor to smaller, midsize aircraft, such as the $17 million Citation Sovereign, $15 million Gulfstream G150 and $16 million Hawker 900XP. Its runway performance is better than any midsize aircraft except for the sprightly Citation Sovereign and it has more range with eight passengers than any business aircraft at its price point.

But it’s truly a super-midsize jet and it will compete against similarly sized aircraft that have more range.