There have been many starts and stops and failures along the way. Names like Eclipse and Adam Aircraft showed great promise but could not deliver or passed out before crossing the finish line of the race.
Innovation comes at a high price in our business and is not for the faint hearted. Billions of dollars have been invested in the industry and most of it has vanished.
Now to the Good News:
Two industry giants have made it across the finish line. Cessna with their Mustang and Embraer with the Phenom 100.
The aircraft that is most impressive is the Phenom 100 manufactured by the Brazilian company Embraer, known for its rugged and efficient regional airliners. It is fascinating to me that, possibly for the first time in our industry, a manufacturer of airliners made the decision to step into the private jet manufacturing business. Airline manufacturers have to make aircraft that are reliable and efficient. The airlines who buy their product to put into service have very little tolerance for failure when it comes to durability, reliability and after market support. Additionally, they demand an aircraft that is cost-efficient. Airlines live and die on the cost per seat mile and the manufacturers know they have to deliver or else. There is no brand loyalty. Its all about the money.
Take a company like Embraer who has prospered in the airliner environment and transfer the knowledge of design, production and after-market service into the business jet world, and you get a business jet that looks like a private jet but is built like an airliner. When I see this aircraft up close the first words that come to mind when comparing to other light jets are rugged, solid and yes, even good looking. You don’t have to compromise an aircraft’s good looks for durability in our business.
The Phenom 100 and subsequent models to follow (Phenom 300) are designed to last more than a lifetime of average use in the private jet industry. Starting from a clean sheet of paper and utilizing the best design technology available to only the likes of Boeing and Airbus, the engineers in Brazil have designed an airframe that is sleek, fuel efficient and has safe flight characteristics, making it easy to fly (for those jet owners who fly themselves). Additionally they listened to the market and employed BMW Design Works to work with them on the interior design of the cabin finishes and ergonomics. And last but not least, they employed the latest technology available to give the pilot all the tools that a new generation airliner has in a simple and user-friendly presentation.
Be on the look out for the Phenom series of light jet aircraft – these guys are here to stay and they are innovating. Their aircraft will be a major player in the innovation of our industry to make the private jet more affordable to more travelers.