Embraer's Phenom 100 Nears First Flight

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Embraer is within weeks of taking its Phenom 100 very light jet for its very first flight, the company said on Tuesday. The prototype is now in a ground-testing phase at company headquarters in Sao Paulo, Brazil, as engineering teams confirm the design quality of the aircraft and test its systems. "The Phenom 100 test campaign has begun and steadily advances," said Alexandre Figueiredo, an Embraer spokesman. "The ground tests prepare the aircraft for its first flight and provide results for the certification process, which is scheduled to be completed in mid-2008." The first test conducted was the engine run, when the Phenom’s Pratt & Whitney Canada PW617F engines were powered up after being mounted on the aircraft. Now the Ground Vibration Test is being conducted, in which the aircraft is suspended with elastic cables in order to float as if in flight to check the durability of the airframe. After further tests of the flight controls, engines and navigation systems, test pilots will perform low- and high-speed taxi runs to confirm controllability of the steering, braking and emergency systems on the ground. Upon completion of all those tests, the first flight of the Phenom 100 will occur, the company said. Later this month Embraer will be marketing the Phenom 100 and its larger sibling, the Phenom 300, at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis. The Phenom 100 sells for just under $3 million.