Rani Singh writes about aviation. She reports on news, foreign affairs, politics and business... Read More
Embraer Legacy 450 jet
Captain Cédric G. of SmartAir, based in Brussels, is flying Europe’s first Embraer Legacy 450 and tells Rani Singh he’s the envy of his colleagues in other companies. Here’s why…
Discussing SmartAir’s new Embraer Legacy 450, Captain Cédric G. smiles… “I’m happy that we convinced the owner to buy this aircraft – at the time, we used arguments that have proven correct. Eighteen months ago, we could foresee that this aircraft was state of the art.”
Cédric has been with SmartAir for three years, and has since persuaded the owner to replace his Cessna Citation XLS+ with the Legacy 450 midsize jet.
Owned by the chairman of a private company Board of Directors (who is in his late seventies), the Legacy 450 has various features that are greatly appreciated by those who fly in it, including individuals who charter the aircraft.
“We flew the aircraft’s owner from Brussels to Zurich, and from Brussels to Clermont-Ferrand near Riom, France. We also recently flew to Zurich because unfortunately during the terrorist attacks on Brussels airport there was no airline service available to enable him to return to Brussels. We were asked to fly and collect him.”
The key advantage of Business Aviation is its flexibility - both in getting as close to specific locations as possible and flying on the passenger’s own schedule. According to Cédric, that flexibility has dramatically increased with the new arrival.
“We can fly direct from London City to St Tropez. London City is a steep approach runway while St Tropez is short, making this city-pair impossible for many business jets,” the Captain reveals.
“We’ve landed comfortably at La Mole, in St Tropez where passenger business activities might include work in tourism, real estate, marketing, local industry and hotel chains. La Mole has a runway measuring just 3,280 ft., and the Legacy 450 is the biggest aircraft certified to land there. But our new jet [at an appropriate weight] is able to land on runways as short as 2,000 feet.
“With the Legacy 450, we have been able to land at places in Europe where other jets of a comparable size and above can’t go without compromising on payload, or are restricted by conditions. We have even landed on shorter, wet runways.
“One businessman took a flight from Nice to Antwerp. Antwerp also has a fairly short runway that means other aircraft of comparable size can mostly only land there when it’s dry (which tends not to be so often in Belgium), thus they would have to divert to Brussels.
“We made flights from Nice and from London to Antwerp and there’s no question we could land if it’s raining. That added assurance for clients has proven very good for our charter business.”
Silence is Golden
One of the key drivers behind choosing a new jet for the SmartAir fleet was the passenger’s need for a productive cabin space. “We were attracted by the fact that with two seats in the middle, passengers can turn them ninety degrees to face one another, enabling passengers to speak to people to the left, right, and in front of them. Because the cabin is wide, passengers can do so without their knees touching.”
Thus, the cabin area can be a productive space for meetings en route to the business destination – and users have also appreciated the silence in the cabin.
“Because it is quiet they can talk quietly, or make a presentation from their iPad or their phones to the monitors. They can take advantage of the flying time to work. This is a productive space for them.”
While Cédric doesn’t always get to know the industries of his passengers in detail, some recent clients were working in construction and others in finance. “It’s important for these passengers to arrive feeling alert, refreshed, and ready for business,” he outlines.
“When you fly, the thing that makes you tired is the pressure inside the cabin. We understand the Legacy 450 to be better pressurised than comparable midsize jets. So at the end of the day people are less tired flying in our jet. A lot of people who flew with us in the last month really appreciated this,” he claims.
To SmartAir’s credit, those who were accustomed to chartering larger aircraft simply to have more space in the cabin can now right-size their aircraft choice to match their budgets in the Legacy 450. Meanwhile, customers that traditionally chartered smaller aircraft find they can enjoy more space and amenities without paying large-cabin prices.
Increased cabin volume; smooth, quiet flight characteristics; the boardroom layout capability; generous baggage capacity; and access to destinations typically limited to smaller aircraft – it’s easy to see why, 18-months ago Cédric was so keen to press the case for the addition of a Legacy 450 to the fleet.