The Embraer Phenom 300 is a highly digitized single-pilot jet designed to displace the turboprop. This deep dive is for those looking for a single-pilot jet.

A pre-owned Embraer Phenom 300 costs between $8 and $10 million for models produced between 2016 and 2020. Powered by two Pratt & Whitney 535E engines, each rated at 3,360 lbs of thrust, the 300 only needs 3,200 feet for take-off and cruises at 453 KTAS.

As someone who’s spent nearly their entire adult life around corporate jets, I am intimately familiar with most of them, but the Phenom 300 holds a special place in my heart…

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Background

The Phenom 300 is the commercial name given to the EMB-505, a larger version of the EMB 500 known commercially as the Phenom 100. With a fuselage that is longer by 9 ft 3 in, the Phenom 300 is targeted at Phenom 100 customers who wish to upgrade to a faster, longer and larger version of the 100.

Like the Phenom 100, the 300 is a single-pilot-certified light jet with a low cantilevered wing, two rear-mounted engines, and a T-tail configuration. It was first announced in May 2005, six months before the announcement of the Phenom 100.

The Phenom 300 was conceptualized, designed, and built by Embraer S.A., a Brazilian aerospace company founded by retired Brazilian Air Force pilot, Ozires Silva in 1969.

The Phenom 300 flew for the first time in April 2008, more than a year after the Phenom 100’s first flight. The 300 was later certified by the FAA under 14 CFR 23’s Commuter Category in December 2009 and proceeded to deliver its first aircraft that same month.

Like the Phenom 100, the 300 relied heavily on advanced materials and composites for the aircraft as well as simplification through digitization and automation for its avionics, processes, and procedures. They essentially thought outside the box to improve its efficiency in every way to reduce weight, improve efficiency, and optimize performance. The aircraft consists of 82% traditional materials in its construction, and an additional 18% composites.

The goal with the Phenom 300 was to appeal to both the private flier as well as the single pilot charter operator where the Phenom could provide a valuable hub and spoke commuter or a point-to-point transport operated by smaller charter outfits.

Philosophy

The Phenom 300 feels like it was built off the 100, but in reality, the concept for the 300 predated the 100. The 300 definitely took some ideas and lessons from the 100 as they delayed the program to finish after the 100s but they also took significant lessons from the ERJ which was super popular and extremely effective in the quick-turn, regional jet market.

The 300 is almost twice the plane compared to the 100. With almost double the take-off weight, double the range, and more than a ten percent increase in max cruise, the 300 is more bang for the buck. It also has better systems and processes than the Phenom 100 which makes its mission profile similar to that of Cessna Citation CJ3 and CJ4.

The three things they had in mind when designing this aircraft were to simplify things for a single pilot, to digitize almost every aspect of flying, and to keep maintenance as simple and cost-effective as possible.

The result, as seen in the 100 and the 300 models, was that a pilot had significantly fewer housekeeping chores to do in the aircraft, giving him the ability to manage the plane better and keep his head outside the cockpit. Ultimately the new philosophy increased safety.

Simplicity in design and manufacturing also meant that costs could be lowered while maintenance could be done faster, turning aircraft around and putting them back on the line with minimal downtime.

Variants

Embraer developed three additional variants using the Model 505 as the base model. The first of the variations came in 2018. This was the Phenom 300E. The E variant came with a new avionics package, redesigned and upgraded interior, and the ability to run one of the engines for 20 minutes on idle to power the electrical and environmental systems.

Embraer upgraded the Phenom 300E in 2020 without changing its model number. Keeping it at 300E they swapped out the previous PW engines and replaced it with a more powerful PW535E1 allowing the 2020 model to max out at M 0.8. They also upgraded the avionics and included runaway awareness.

Only the 300E, which stands for Enhanced, remains in production. There are still older model Phenom 300s still available in the used market.

Finally, in 2020 Embraer introduced the 300 MED, a ready-fit configuration that would essentially convert any existing Phenom 300 into a medevac aircraft. At present, Embraer has a number of orders to convert existing Model 505s for medevac use.

Specs

Specification Embraer Phenom 300
Fuselage Length 51 ft 4 in (15.65 m)
Height (Top of Tail) 16 ft 9 in (5.11 m)
Wingspan 52 ft 2 in (15.9 m)
Cabin Length 17 ft 2 in (5.23 m)
Cabin Width 5 ft 1 in (1.55 m)
Cabin Height 4 ft 11 in (1.5 m)
Cabin Volume 324 cubic ft
Ramp Weight 18,497 lbs (8390 kg)
Max Takeoff Weight (MTOW) 17,968 lbs (8150 kg)
Max Landing Weight (MLW) 17,042 lbs (7730 kg)
Basic Operating Weight (BOW) 11,583 lbs (5254 kg)
Fuel Capacity 5,353 lbs (2428 kg)
Zero Fuel Weight (ZFW) 13,999 lbs (6350 kg)
Max Payload 2,416 lbs (1096 kg)
Engines Pratt & Whitney Canada PW535E
Crew 1 (Can be flown by two pilots)
Passengers 9 + 1 (extra in right-hand side co-pilot seat)
Mmo M0.78 (Phenom 300) M0.80 (Phenom 300E)
Range 1,971 nm

Aerodynamics

The Embraer Phenom 300 uses a flattened oval structure for the fuselage, which sits upon a cantilever wing design. This brings two key benefits to the design.

The oval shape lends strength to the structure while allowing for more shoulder and leg room in the cabin and cockpit. It also decreases the structural penalty on weight by sitting the fuselage on the cantilevered wing thereby keeping up strength through the use of a molded wing-body design while increasing aerodynamic benefits.

To make the design faster and have longer legs they approached the problem from two ends. On one side, they altered the aerodynamics of the aircraft by choosing a supercritical wing design, then sweeping it back to delay the onset of wave drag. Then they upgraded the engines so that there would be more thrust. They also increased the overall structure of the airframe so that the increased strength would allow them to rate the engine output higher.

The result was an M 0.8 top speed, making it one of, if not the, fastest private jet in its class.

But that upper-speed limit is not just because of the structure. It’s also because of the design procedures employed at Embraer diving the construction of the 300. They thought of everything which is why when you inspect the aircraft you will find that it has no aerodynamic fixes to augment the original shape. It’s one fluid curve from the tip of the nose to the back of the empennage.

The swept-back wings give it the reduced drag for high-speed flight while the winglets allow those same wings to perform better at low speeds and thin air. There are no afterthoughts like stall fences or vortex generators to augment the aerodynamics.

The original design of the aircraft is so complete and robust that you can feel it in its handling characteristics. It's not often that you can hand-fly a plane at FL450, but you can with this one. There is no mushy feel, in fact, just the opposite.

The controls are heavy and solid. In a very good way. Minor adjustments get you to your target pitch and since all the other parameters of the aircraft are being handled by some system or other, there is time to hand fly the plane.

Avionics

The 300 boasts one of the best-in-class avionics available today. Having a goal for simplification and full digitalization, they relied heavily on integrating systems with automation and avionics, so much so that even the brakes are "fly by wire."

The cockpit is an all-glass setup with full fly-by-wire integration into a floor-mounted yoke and FADEC with an autothrottle in the center console.

The aircraft can be flown by two pilots for added redundancy but is fully capable, with the help of purpose-designed avionics and software, of being flown by a lone pilot. The FMS handles most of it seamlessly with truncated checklists as part of a smart system. The Prodigy Touch Integrated Avionics suite interfaces perfectly between man and machine via three 12.4-inch displays, two as primary, and one in the center.

The FMS is capable of graphical flight planning and has a fully integrated EICAS, as well as standby instrumentation. Electronic checklists as well as SIDs and STARS are easily displayed on the PFDs while the landing environment is projected on the SVS (Synthetic Vision System) that allows weather and terrain to be overlayed onto the environment on display. This gives the pilot full situational awareness and threat assessment capability.

Propulsion

The original Phenom 300 that was announced almost in parallel with the Phenom 100 comes with two Pratt and Whitney Canada’s PW535E engines with 5,000 hours between overhauls. This reduces downtime and keeps the aircraft generating utility while keeping absolute and hourly costs low.

Each compressor and turbine comes as a single unit where blades and core are molded as one. This reduces part count as well as maintenance and increases reliability, giving the Phenom 300 one of the lowest down-for-maintenance times on the market.

Thermodynamically the 535Es can produce up to 3,360 lb f (per engine) in standard atmospheric conditions, but they are flat-rated to produce just 3,200 lb f each. And even with this powerful performance, they produce 25% less greenhouse gasses than other engines.

It has a high flat rating, up to 15 degrees, which means you can keep your rate of climb constant for a large portion of the climb segment. The engines configured in this way are also the reason the aircraft is able to get to FL450 in under 25 minutes.

The 535E is an axial flow engine with a medium bypass driven by twin spools. The two-stage axial fans are driven by one high-pressure turbine which also drives the high-pressure compressor. The 535E is controlled by dual redundancy, dual channel Full Authority Digital Engine Control, FADEC.

Aside from offering the pilots ease of operability and better power matched to the phase of flight, the FADEC improves maintenance and service by providing key information at all times, easily downloadable to a mobile app or desktop environment. It is also designed for perfect integration with the aircraft’s avionics and autopilot.

As if the speed and altitude were not evidence enough of the engine’s power, one more metric should convince you. The Phenom 300 and the 300E can reach FL450 while keeping the cabin at 6.600 feet. While that is also a function of the structure, the engines must have sufficient excess bleed air above what it needs for thrust to be able to keep the pressure in the cabin at such a high differential.

Fuel Burn

The Phenom 300 has a sweet spot when it comes to altitude, speed, and fuel burn. Because of its swept wing design, it can achieve significant drag reduction the higher it goes, even when it is close to Mach 0.8.

However, fuel burn is better at the highest possible altitude bottoming out at 100 gallons per hour at FL450. This gives you your best endurance, but not your top speed which is a function of the engine’s thermodynamic ability.

During the first hour of operation, the Phenom 300 burns more than 1040 pounds per hour on average, using more than five hundred to climb to altitude, assuming no delays from ATC.

Speed

V Speeds Limits Embraer Phenom 300 KIAS
Vfe - flaps @ 15 degrees 200
Vfe - flaps @ 35 degrees 161
Vle 200
Vlo 200
Vsb -
Max Autopilot 275

Payload

The Phenom 300 has a significant payload advantage compared to other aircraft in its class and price range. With an MTOW of 17,968 lbs and a zero fuel weight of 13,999 lbs, you will have the ability to carry 3,969 pounds of fuel with a full payload on board.

Its Max Ramp Weight of 18,078 lbs, gives you 110 lbs of fuel for ground ops before take-off should you feel the need for it.

The Phenom takes just over 500 pounds of fuel to get to FL450 leaving you with just under 3,400 pounds of fuel to make your journey if you have max payload. At an average burn rate of 800 pounds per hour after the first hour, a thirty-minute reserve is 400 pounds (what you’ll need in the tanks to land with.) That gives you just about 3,000 pounds of fuel, which is almost four hours of endurance with a full payload.

At 453 KTAS, traveling for almost 4 hours, gives you a no-wind range of 1700 nautical miles. That is enough to cover more than half the coast-to-coast journey that the 300 can easily do with one stop.

The Operating Empty Weight for the Phenom 300 is 11,583 pounds, giving you a difference (from zero fuel weight) of 2,416 pounds for max payload. Since you can fit ten passengers (including the extra pilot’s seat on the flight deck, that means each person, averaging 180 pounds, can carry 60 pounds of luggage and make it more than halfway across the country in one hop.

Conversely, if you load up with full fuel - 5,353 pounds, you will be able to take on 1,032 pounds of payload. At approximately 1000 pounds for a climb and reserve fuel, 4,353 pounds will give you an endurance of just over five and a half hours of flight time at Max Cruise.

This will give you a range of 2,400 nautical miles which puts someone in San Francisco within reach of Chicago in one hop. With over 1000 pounds of payload, that easily covers four passengers of 180 pounds each with 60 pounds of luggage each, with some room still left over!

Price

Embraer Phenom 300 Selling Price, mil
Model Year $ Min $ Max $ Average
2012 8.50 8.90 8.70
2014 9.00 9.40 9.20
2016 9.20 10.0 9.60
2018 9.60 10.60 10.10
2020 (E) 9.90 11.70 10.80

There is a noticeable increase in pricing between the 300 and the 300E. Of course there is the factor that they are new models and so that alone should keep the aircraft high in value, but even accounting for that sees a premium for the 300E, and that is because of the cabin comforts that were focused on in the upgraded model.

For instance, seats are now on tracks that allow passengers to slide them out toward the center of the aisle, thereby giving them more shoulder room away from the side wall.

Fixed Cost

Fixed Cost $ % of Total Cost
Crew Expense 200,000.00 16.72%
Crew Training 30,000.00 2.51%
Hangar 30,000.00 2.51%
Insurance 20,000.00 1.67%
Aircraft Misc. 8,000.00 0.67%
Capital Cost (Loan: $8 million @5.5% 10yrs) 87,018.00 7.27%
Average Depreciation / Year 100,000.00 8.36%
Total Fixed Cost per Year 475,018.00 39.70%

The financial numbers shown here are for a Phenom 300 priced at $10 million. A loan of $8 million was taken out at a 5.5% per annum interest rate for ten years. I used depreciation of $100,000 per year. To get an idea of what it would cost you you would have to speak to an accountant. These figures are meant to give you a conceptual framework of what it may cost.

The numbers were for 400 hours of flight time in the year.

Direct Operating Cost

Direct Operating Cost $ per hour $ per 400 hours % of Total Cost
Fuel Cost @ $7.60/gal 1,041 416,400 34.80%
Maintenance - 85,000 7.10%
Engine Overhaul - 130,000 10.87%
Misc. - 90,000 7.52%
Total Direct Operating Costs (DOC) - 721,400 60.3%

To operate the aircraft for 400 hours in a year the total cost will be $1,196,418 which works out to be $2,991 per hour. There are two major cost components that you will have to keep in mind. The first is the cost of the crew. This is calculated for two crew members. However, if you are flying this by yourself, then you would be able to remove the single largest cost component in the fixed cost category.

The second is the fuel cost. This cost represents the largest cost component of the variable cost.

The other thing to note also is that depreciation is not a cash item, which you will not incur as you fly the plane. As an owner piloting yourself the total costs can be as low as $1,992 per hour.

The Phenom positions itself as one of the lowest costing solutions per pound of payload per nautical mile of travel. A four hour flight across 1,700 nautical miles with a payload of 2,416 pounds on a 300 costs $7470. That’s $4.39 per nautical mile, or $0.0018 per pound per nautical mile. It is one of the most cost effective jets on the market.

About THE AUTHOR

Joe Haygood

Joe Haygood

After spending years watching every video I could find about flying, I finally scratched the itch and got my pilots license. Now I fly every chance I get, and share the information I learn, here.

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