When Embraer created its executive jet division in 2005, it announced its intent to become a major player in business aviation, which was already a jam-packed market. The first versions of its Legacy 600, a derivative of its EMB135 jetliner, fell short of that goal. But based upon customer concerns, Embraer continued to refine the aircraft, first with a drag reduction package that added 200+ nm of range and later with successive interior upgrades that transformed the aircraft into a highly capable, 3,400-nm range super-midsize business jet.

The pattern of ongoing product re–finement appears to be continuing with the Phenom 100 and Phenom 300. NetJets' new Signature Series aircraft, for instance, are equipped with Prodigy Touch flight decks with Garmin G3000 avionics featuring Garmin touch-screen controllers, an upgraded refreshment center, Wi-Fi and IFE. More improvements are in the works.

Most of the current Phenom 300 operators' concerns relate to teething pains, the almost inevitable entry-into-service reliability problems suffered by clean-sheet models. At the January 2013 Phenom Jet Association maintenance and operations symposium in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Embraer discussed the progress it's making on the top 25 operator service concerns and the top 25 causes of aircraft-on-ground dispatch failures. Solutions for most of those problems should be available by fourth quarter 2013.

Overall owner satisfaction is reflected in continued strong sales of the Phenom 300. First delivery was in December 2009, then the company delivered 26 units in 2010, 42 in 2011 and 48 in 2012. The pace of deliveries in 2013 is only slightly lower than the previous year.

This is occurring at a time when other light jet manufacturers have encountered considerably softer sales, forcing them to discount prices, slash or stop production, and furlough or fire workers.

There are only six confirmed Phenom 300 aircraft on the pre-owned market. Sellers are fetching $7.2 million or more. Most sellers are very satisfied with their aircraft, but they're ready to trade up for a larger aircraft with more range and speed. As a result, other Phenom 300 operators are likely upgrade candidates for the Legacy 500 when the 3,000-nm range, super-midsize aircraft enters service in early 2014.

BCA heard consistently positive comments from operators about their aircraft.

“I did my homework. The airplane does everything well. It has great ramp presence, great all-around performance, it stops great and it costs me less to operate than anything I've ever owned, including the Phenom 100,” says Obernolte.

“It has exceeded every expectation,” says Kamen. “It's almost perfect. I'd definitely recommend it,” says a corporate chief pilot.

“Run all the maintenance and operating cost numbers. Get real data, not hearsay. In the end, don't be afraid of buying Brazilian!” says another owner-operator.

With individual operators making comments such as those to their friends, future sales prospects for the Phenom 300 look bright. With significant orders from Executive AirShare, Flight Options and NetJets, three major fleet operators, healthy production rates are likely to continue for years to come.

Read the Embraer Phenom 300 pilot report by Fred George from the October 2009 issue. Tap here in the digital edition of BCA.

Top 25 AOG Causes
Rank 12-MonthAOGs Descriptions Solution
1 43 Flap Fail Flight Control Electronics Unit - 1011
2 19 Engine Start Failure Relay Contactor
3 19 Brake Inop / Failure Brake Control Unit - Version 7
4 12 Gust Lock Malfunction Under Investigation
5 8 Anti-Skid Failure Brake Control Unit - Version 8
6 8 Chip Detection — Engine Oil Contamination Message Prodigy SW Load 63
7 8 DC Bus Failure Relay Contactor
8 8 Smart Probe Heat Failure Under Investigation
9 4 Ventral Rudder Failure Under Investigation
10 4 Windshield Heat Inop W/S Heat Control Unit — Version 4
11 4 Hydraulic System Leak Hydraulic Accumulator
12 5 Bleed Air Failure PRSOV Corrosion
13 3 Garmin Integrated Avionics Unit Under Investigation
14 8 Air Data System Under Investigation
15 4 Engine — No Dispatch FADEC Upgrade
16 10 Engine Air Inlet Cracks Retrofit Engine Inlet
17 3 Pitch Trim Failure — Normal Mode Flight Control Electronics Unit - 1011
18 3 MLG Oleo Leak Under Investigation
19 3 Engine Oil Problem Under Investigation
20 7 Multifunction Spoiler Fault Flight Control Electronics Unit - 1011
21 4 Multifunction Spoiler Failure Flight Control Electronics Unit - 1011
22 3 DC Electrical Power Malfunction Relay Contactor
23 3 Flap Malfunction Flight Control Electronics Unit - 1011
24 3 Thermostat Control Failure Temperature Controller - Version 6
25 5 Electric Fuel Pump Inoperative Relay Contactor Jan. 2013
Remedy Available Remedy Under Development Cause Under Investigation
Source: Phenom Operators’ Meeting