IN FOCUS: NBAA:
Cabin mock-ups for industry events were assembled with actual production components
The Legacy 500 cockpit is equipped with Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion avionics
When the Legacy 500 arrives in operational service next year, Embraer’s decade-long conquest of a large share of the business jet market will be almost complete.
The Brazilian manufacturer did not exist in the market for private jets as late as 2000. By 2008,
The debut of the entry-level Phenom 100 in 2008 and light Phenom 300 in 2009 changed the market permanently. The midsize Legacy 500 and the forthcoming super-light Legacy 450 will fill the last crucial gaps in Embraer’s product line-up, which now stretches from the Phenom 100 to the VVIP Lineage 1000.
In each of these categories, Embraer’s consistent approach to product strategy is clear. It targets a certain range and size before selecting key technologies previously reserved for larger aircraft, repackaging them for smaller aircraft. The strategy can be as simple as selecting a baggage volume typical of a super-midsize jet and squeezing such a compartment into the midsize category, as was done on the Legacy 500.
If there is a single technology that defines the Legacy 500, however, it is fly-by-wire control. Although long a standard for military fighters, large airlines and the largest business jets, no company until
In a conventional aircraft the pilot’s flight control mechanism – be it a stick or a column – is mechanically linked to the control surfaces on the wings and tail that determine the aircraft’s attitude in pitch, yaw and roll.
Fly-by-wire inserts a computer and software algorithms between the pilot’s control mechanism – in this case, sidesticks – and the control surfaces. The computer receives the sidestick inputs that transmit the pilot’s intent, and the software algorithms determine how to best achieve that intent – albeit sometimes within certain limits.
How those limits are defined is one of the most controversial arguments in the aviation industry. Embraer’s philosophy emphasises simplicity and maximising performance within the protected flight envelope.
The Legacy 500 fly-by-wire system operates using only two control laws: normal and direct. The latter is activated only in a degraded state. Whereas other flight control systems employ several degraded modes,
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