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VLJ Interiors (Part Two)

Interiors and Concepts of VLJs in the completions industry.

This month- we continue our talks with VLJ manufacturers to discuss their design philosophies - and in particular- their attention to cabin and interior matters. This new and emerging market is causing a lot of interest- and only during the last few months we have seen many changes - including the bankruptcy of Adam Aircraft followed by its re-emergence- even though no official word has come out on production- manufacturing or delivery schedules for its VLJ just yet.

Embraer Phenom 100
We will begin with a look at the Phenom 100 (pronounced fee-nom) being developed by Embraer. The Phenom 100 is a $2.98m airplane (January 2005 dollars)- offering up to six seats- and flying a maximum 380kts at FL 410 and with a range of 1-300nm. The cockpit will offer the latest equipment from Garmin’s all-glass 12-inch displays utilizing the Prodigy Flight Deck system.

Powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW617F engines- each with 1-615 pounds of thrust- the Phenom 100 was launched in May 2005 and officially announced during the Orlando NBAA Convention that year. Roll-out occurred at Embraer’s Sao Jose dos Campos- Brazil facility in June 2007. Entry into service is on schedule for 2008 with customer deliveries already in process.

World Aircraft Sales Magazine took the opportunity to speak with Embraer’s Ernie Edwards (vice president- Marketing and Sales- North America and the Caribbean). In discussing the interior with Mr. Edwards it became apparent that Embraer was adapting from an airline environment taking its vast vault of information and knowledge from that industry and bringing it to corporate aviation.

Mr. Edwards explained- “Embraer has a wealth of experience in the airline environment and we wanted to adapt the Phenom aircraft to utilize that experience in creating an aircraft with superior logistic support- quick turn-arounds- high life-cycle components- and readily available customer support. Understanding that a Phenom will not have the cycle usage of an airliner but building it with that philosophy will greatly enhance the aircraft.”

The interior will be available in two configurations- depending on the usage of the operator. The standard will be four-passenger seats with lavatory- or the six-passenger seating without a lavatory. Of particular note is that few of the VLJ’s will offer a lav so it’s interesting to see an OEM adding this feature which many people will find comforting.

“In order to have a most pleasing style interior Embraer selected BMW Group Designworks USA to design the interior for both of the Phenom light jets-” Edwards continued.

With an oval cross-section as opposed to the traditional circular cabin- the interior appears much larger and more inviting. Adding plush leathers and earth tones along with the largest 1.15 sq/ft area windows will truly provide a pleasing flight for the passengers.

“BMW Designworks really knows how to maximize interior space- while providing a comfortable atmosphere for the passengers-” remarked Edwards. “Onboard amenities include a wardrobe or refreshment center- executive table- optional in-flight entertainment systems- and private aft lavatory with cabinet.” Add to this a generous 55 cu-ft total baggage capacity big enough to store skis and golf bags- and you have a nicely laid-out interior.

Initial pilot training will be provided by a joint venture with CAE at the Dallas- Texas- facility with plans for expansion to Western Europe and the Eastern U.S. along with service centers in Melbourne- Florida (this will also be the delivery and final assembly facility)- Mesa- Arizona and Windsor Locks- Connecticut will enable Embraer to provide full support within the USA for the executive jet customer.

For more information on the Phenom 100- read our update on the jet in this issue on p130.

As we went to press much of the information from HondaJet was still being withheld due to the fact that many aspects of the design and development of the aircraft are still in the certification phase. For reasons of confidentiality and/or proprietary competitive advantage- we were unable to access as much information as we would have liked concerning the interior.

With a cruise speed of 420 kts- service ceiling of 43-000 feet and range of 1-400nm along with a cabin for 7-seats- 4.94 feet high by 5 feet wide and 17.80 feet long the HondaJet comes with a price tag closer to $4 million.

World Aircraft Sales Magazine spoke to Mr. Stephen Keeney- senior manager- Corporate Affairs for Honda Aircraft Company at its Greensboro- NC facility. “The greatest influence for the HondaJet was to ensure Comfort- Performance and Technology was incorporated into this aircraft-” stated Keeney. “By utilizing the over-wing engine concept we were able to open up more interior space for the main cabin.”

Looking at the aircraft- it clearly appears to be a result of ‘thinking outside of the box’. This relates to a cabin much longer than most other comparable jets.

Despite its official launch at the 2006 NBAA Convention- the actual aircraft design had started many years earlier at Honda- who had foreseen a requirement for an advanced small aircraft and had been working on this design for at least the better part of 10 years.

This can be seen in the usage of an all-composite fuselage- thereby also increasing interior volume. Add to the mix a new Honda/GE HF120 developed turbofan engine producing 1-880 pounds of thrust and an all-glass cockpit- and you have a unique aircraft.

Concerning the interior Keeney stated that HondaJet wanted to develop the aircraft by utilizing the philosophy; “‘man maximum- machine minimum’. Give the passengers/operator maximum benefit by keeping the machine complexities to a minimum-” he added. This can be seen by the incorporation of a fully enclosed lavatory- classic club seating for four passengers- dropped aisle for enhanced movement about the cabin and 57 cubic feet of baggage capacity. Information is not yet available on interior amenities but we will present them in a future article.

Like Embraer- HondaJet has big plans for customer support that will be announced soon but what is known is the main facility will be in Greensboro- NC and is expected to be fully operational by 2009 for first customer deliveries in 2010. Full production numbers are rumored to be about 350-400 units per year but will certainly depend on current and future economic developments.

Certainly this market of VLJ’s is still in its infancy stage since things are changing daily. Keep the blue side up and we will continue to enjoy this very interesting and fascinating business of aviation.

More information from Embraer: www.embraercorporatejet.com
Honda Aircraft: http://hondajet.honda.com
John Brodeur specializes in Completion Management and Interior Design of business aircraft.

Mr. Brodeur can be contacted at Tel: +1 647 448 4748 (Cell) or by email at john@avbro.com 

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