The Legacy 600, built from 2002 to 2012, is one of the most successful jetliner conversions yet produced for the business aircraft market. It offers a three-zone cabin, a large aft lavatory with windows and a 240 cu. ft., full-time access, aft baggage compartment, by far the largest in its class. There’s another 46 cu. ft. of carry-on luggage room in the cabin.

Embraer did all the business jet conversion work in house, adding belly tanks that boost fuel capacity by 6,646 lb. (6,847 lb. at s.n. 625, et seq., or with s.n. 145LEG-28-0010), developing several interior configurations, increasing operating weights and refining exterior features to slash drag. The fully integrated product is type certified as EMB-135BJ. It’s not a hodge-podge of third-party STCs.

This is an aircraft that can fly 12 to 14 passengers between the U.S. east and west coasts, assuming average winds. Range with a full-fuel payload of 1,500 lb. is 3,200 nm, assuming spec completion weights. The Legacy 600 is a charter operator’s dream machine because it has unsurpassed dispatch reliability, easy maintenance and rock-bottom operating costs.

True to its roots as a work-a-day regional airliner, though, it initially climbs only into the mid-thirties and cruises at Mach 0.74 on long-range missions. Embraer says to plan on 7+30 block times and 14,200 lb. fuel burns for 3,000 nm equivalent still air distance missions. Operators can bank on 400-kt. block speeds for shorter trips and 420-kt. block speeds for long-range missions. Average fuel burn is 2,000 lb./hr. and direct operating cost is $4,000 per hour, assuming 2+00 average missions and 600 flight hours per year.

On shorter trips, operators can push it up to Mach 0.78, but fuel consumption increases considerably. Redline is a modest Mach 0.80, but Vmo is 320 KIAS so you can keep up with jetliner traffic while descending on arrivals.

Interior fit and finish is not the best in class, but Embraer sought to keep purchase price in check so quality trade-offs were necessary. Most aircraft are configured with a forward galley, a forward four-chair club section, a central four-seat conference grouping flacked by a cross-side credenza and an aft section with a convertible sofa sleeper plus two facing chairs. Outside of the Gulfstream G280, this is the only aircraft in the super-midsize class to have a dropped aisle. But, the 42 ft. net interior length and large number of cabin windows give the interior a spacious feel.

Cockpits feature Honeywell Primus 2000 avionics, including dual radio management units, dual Laseref IRSes, dual FMZ2000s and dual digital air data computers. The aircraft is Cat II approach capable. Early models have CRT displays and later ones were upgraded to LCD screens. Embraer’s display color conventions and user interfaces quite clearly were designed by seasoned test pilots and not lab engineers. The flight decks are relatively unsophisticated, but very ergonomic. CMA-1100 PilotView Class 2 EFBs with stand-by battery packs were optional, but most operators just use iPads for e-charts, XM radio weather, aircraft flight manuals and other required documents.

Designed for quick turn-arounds, checklists are short and systems are highly automated. Notably, a reduced takeoff thrust rating decreases engine wear and thus maintenance expense. Full-rated thrust is available if available runway length or climb gradient is a factor.

Legacy 600 has jetliner-like runway performance. Assuming standard day conditions, it needs 3,800 ft. of pavement for a 1,000-nm mission and 5,614 ft. of runway when departing at MTOW. The engines are flat-rated to ISA+22°C, so hot-and-high departures seldom result in reduced weight takeoffs.

Basic maintenance intervals are 500 hr. or 6 months and 900 flight cycles/2,000 flight hour. Heavy maintenance, such as corrosion inspections, are due at 4,000 flight hours or 48 months, 8,000 flight hours or 72 months and 4,000 flight cycles or 96 months. More than half the fleet is enrolled in one of the three levels of Embraer Executive Care, a comprehensive maintenance program that provides predictable operating costs, including coverage for APU, avionics, tires, brakes, batteries, cabin systems and optional equipment. Most aircraft also are enrolled in Rolls-Royce Corporate Care or JSSI AE3007 engine maintenance programs. Notably, while engine maintenance is “on-condition,” mean time between scheduled removals for engines is 6,500 hr. Most maintenance can be done on pylon.

The Legacy 600’s main competitors are the Bombardier Challenger 850, a converted CRJ200, having a longer and wider cabin but poorer runway performance, plus purpose-built business jets such as the Gulfstream IV, IV-SP and G450, the Bombardier Challenger 601 and the Dassault Falcon 900B. The Legacy 600, though, has unbeatably low direct operating costs, unrivaled dispatch reliability and airline-frugal replacement parts costs. Early 2002 models sell for as little as $6 million and 2012 models command as much as $17 million. These aircraft are bargains because resale prices tanked when Embraer introduced the Legacy 650, an aircraft that offers 500 nm more range.

If you’re a charter operator in the market for a transcontinental U.S. range aircraft with rock-bottom operating costs that accommodates a dozen-plus passengers and virtually all the baggage they can bring along, the Legacy 600 is a strong contender. B&CA

DOWNLOAD Operators Survey on the Embraer 135/Legacy 600 from the June 2009 B&CA or go to www.bcadigital.com/legacy600opsreport