20/Twenty: Embraer Phenom 300
With the Phenom 300E, Brazilian manufacturer Embraer has claimed bragging rights to producing the world’s best-selling light business jet for a ninth consecutive year, based on numbers released by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA).
Embraer Executive Jets delivered 50 of the single-pilot-certified twinjets in 2020, bringing to 590 the number of Phenom 300s it has delivered since the model debuted in 2009. According to GAMA, 40 of the jets the manufacturer shipped last year were improved Phenom 300Es. Embraer started producing the Phenom 300 at its assembly facility in Melbourne, Florida, in 2012-13.
The factory-new list price of Phenom 300E is $9.65 million; later serial number Phenom 300s list for $8.9 million, according to the spring 2021 edition of the Aircraft Bluebook.
As of February 2021, there were 30 Phenom 300s for sale, representing 5.09% of the operating fleet of 589 jets, according to JetNet data. The average asking price was $7.1 million.
In general, when less than 10% of a fleet is for sale, it’s a seller’s market, says Matt Hagans, founder and CEO of Eagle Creek Aviation, a private aviation services and International Aircraft Dealers Association member company based in Indianapolis.
An FBO, aircraft management, charter, sales and maintenance provider, Eagle Creek Aviation is an Embraer-authorized service center for Phenom 100s and 300s—simultaneously developed models that Hagans helped bring to the U.S. market in the mid-to-late 2000s. He made multi-plane purchases of more than 30 Phenoms for resale to clients and served on Embraer’s Man-Machine Interface Committee during the design and introduction of the sibling jets.
“It’s the most popular airplane in new numbers of sale and probably the most active in used,” says Hagans of the Phenom 300. “We recommend them simply because you want to sell a client an airplane you know he can sell when he’s done with it. I’m generally going to be responsible to sell it when he wants something bigger, and the Phenom 300 does so many jobs so well—short field [operations], long trips, getting above the weather quickly and huge baggage [space].”
Mostly marketed as a corporate aircraft, the Phenom 300 also sells well as an owner-flown jet, says Hagans. In addition, it is popular with fleet operators—NetJets has 82 Phenom 300s, NetJets Europe 17 and Flexjet 39, according to the Aviation Week Intelligence Network Fleet Discovery database.
“It does a great job holdings its value because it reaches so many points—as an owner-flown airplane, as a low-cost airplane for the charter operators,” says Hagans. “For a charter operator, this airplane is on the market for between $3,500-$4,000 an hour in charter, the same as a Hawker 800 or a Citation XL. Those two airplanes burn about 220-230 gal. per hr.; this thing burns 160-170.”
Powered by twin Pratt & Whitney Canada PW535E engines, each producing 3,478 lb. of thrust, the Phenom 300E has a maximum range of 2,010 nm at long-range cruise speed with five occupants and NBAA IFR fuel reserves; it can fly coast to coast in the U.S. with just one stop. Its top speed is Mach 0.80, with high-speed cruise of 464 ktas, Embraer says. Departing at MTOW (18,497 lb.), the jet needs 3,209 ft. of runway in ISA sea-level conditions.
One of Hagans’ customers is Jay Obernolte, who founded video game developer and publisher FarSight Studios. An accomplished pilot, he first bought a Twin Commander from Eagle Creek Aviation, transitioned to the Phenom 100, then followed with the -300.
“What I value the most is that it’s a no-compromises do-everything aircraft,” Obernolte says of the Phenom 300. “It will carry a big load, take off from a short runway, climb quickly, cruise fast and relatively economically, handle weather well, and land on a short runway—all at the same time. It has simple, well-engineered systems, it’s relatively inexpensive to maintain, and it almost never breaks. In fact, after 10 years of operating one, I can count on one hand the number of flights that I’ve had delayed due to a maintenance issue.”
Commenting on the jet’s performance, Obernolte reports: “Our early serial number can carry 1.400 lb. with full fuel (including the pilot), and we do not have the available gross weight increase, which would allow us to carry even more. On a max-range flight at MTOW we climb directly to FL450 (45,000 ft.) and cruise there at 405 ktas to start, increasing gradually to 435 ktas as fuel is consumed at a fuel flow of around 850 pph total. We are comfortable flying 1,850 nm legs with a very generous reserve.”
He adds: “Embraer’s quoted range numbers are achievable if one is willing to accept NBAA reserves, but we like to land with a little more fuel than that. You can certainly go faster at lower altitudes if your range profile allows—450 ktas in the mid-30s is very realistic.”
Phenom 300E Introduced
Embraer delivered the first Phenom 300E from Melbourne to Texas law firm Dunham & Jones in June 2020. The 300E—as in “enhanced”—comes with more powerful PW535E engines (thrust is increased by 118 lb. per engine to 3,478 lb.), which was made possible by a software change to the engine’s full authority digital engine control, and increased range from 1,971 nm to 2,010 nm.
The original Garmin G1000-based Prodigy flight deck in the Phenom 300 is upgraded in the E-model to the G3000 Prodigy Touch avionics suite. The latter system is fronted by three 14.1-in. displays (two primary flight displays and one multifunction display) and two 5.7-in. touchscreen controllers situated at the top of the pedestal. Added functionality includes a runway overrun awareness and alerting system, predictive windshear, emergency descent mode, PERF/TOLD (performance and takeoff/landing data), and text messaging compatibility with the FAA’s Data Comm system.
Embraer offers the Phenom 300E in three configurations; the standard configuration accommodates eight occupants and features six passenger seats and a refreshment center. A 10-occupant layout comes with an optional belted lavatory, seventh passenger seat and refreshment center. A third layout, with optional belted lavatory, two-place divan opposite the main entry door and a refreshment center, accommodates 11 people. Most customers choose the divan option, the manufacturer says.
In August 2020, Embraer announced a custom medevac interior—the Phenom 300MED—developed with engineering design company umlaut and aeromedical completions specialist Aerolite.
The Phenom 300E “is the most pressurized aircraft in the light jet segment,” Embraer says, enabling it to maintain a 6,600-ft. cabin altitude at its 45,000 ft., ceiling. The jet’s “Oval Lite” cabin cross-section design increases leg- and headroom, and oversized windows deliver natural lighting in the cabin as well as in the lavatory.
“The windows are about 35% larger than the competition,” says Hagans. “The airplane feels much bigger inside. The wider shoulder [fuselage] really creates a lot of space for the cabin size.” Total baggage and stowage volume is 84 cubic ft.; the main baggage compartment is 66 cubic ft.
With the Phenom 300E, Embraer also introduced the optional Bossa Nova Edition interior first offered on its larger Praetor 500/600 jets. A carbon-fiber surface application replaces veneer surfaces in the “piano black”-colored cabin, which features custom, quilted seat stitching and gold trim details.
The Phenom 300E also comes with optional 4G inflight connectivity through the Gogo Advance L5 air-to-ground system, which requires dual bottom-mounted antennas.
Phenom 300 maintenance intervals are based on flying 600 hr. per year, with major inspections at 60 and 120 months. Most operators choose Embraer Executive Care, which covers scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, OEM parts replacement and maintenance tracking and control. Payments are calculated based on the number of hours flown during a month, multiplied by a pre-defined hour fee.
“For X,Y, Z dollars-per-hour, per-year, you can lock down every maintenance cost on the airplane so you can budget to the penny what the jet will cost you if you choose to do that. Sixy-five percent of the fleet is on that program. It’s hugely popular and it makes the airplane very easy for resales. Probably 85% of my clients are enrolled because I recommend it.”
A large number of Phenom 300s were delivered from 2009-11, making them due for a 10-year landing gear inspection that costs between $100,000-$200,000 for overhaul and parts replacement, Hagans advises.
“The airplane is now 10 years old [and] extremely mature design-wise,” says Hagans. “There are very few unscheduled maintenance issues. I would say the dispatch reliability is as good or better than anything else out there in the fleet.”