Flying Embraer’s super posh, quiet £7.8 million private jet

Feb 9, 2020

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For many wealthy individuals, being able to add a private jet to the collection is the ultimate sign of success. It can also be a practical business tool, and — for those on a bit of a budget — “fractional ownership” through a company like NetJets is an option, too.

As much as they may like to have one, not everyone needs a Gulfstream, such as the $45-million G500 I got to check out in 2018. And, at the other end of the spectrum, there’s just a lot a $2-million single-engine jet can’t do.

That’s where the Phenom 300E comes in, the industry’s (and Embraer’s) bestselling light jet. And, now that the $9.65-million beaut is almost ready to fly customers with the company’s slick “Bossa Nova” design upgrades, I popped down to Melbourne, Florida (MLB) for a demo flight down to Fort Lauderdale (FLL), just before an army of private jets descended on the airport for Super Bowl LIV in Miami.

The Phenom 300E is Embraer’s latest version of the 300 — the company has sold more than 500 aircraft in the series to date, though this latest variant, which sports a number of enhancements, won’t be delivered to customers until it’s certified by the FAA, hopefully within the next few months, with an anticipated first delivery in May.

The occasion of this week’s visit? An opportunity for Embraer to show off a new package called “Bossa Nova,” which translates to “new trend” in the Brazilian company’s home language of Portuguese.

The add-on includes several enhancements — outside, customers can add a special livery, including a very slick piano-black finish on the wings.

Piano black is available for cabin finishes as well, including the glossy foldout tray tables, armrests and drink/smartphone holders, and the overhead panelling as well.

The cabin can be configured with seating for up to nine passengers, including six recliners, two on the sofa behind the cockpit and — if someone’s willing — a belted commode (yes, I’m talking about the toilet). The cabin is also outfitted with two flip-down displays, touch controls, window blinds, LED lights (with adjustable colour temperature) and a whole lot more, including 4G Gogo connectivity.

We had two pilots for our demo flight, per Embraer policy, but the aircraft can actually be safely flown with just one.

Naturally, the glass cockpit is as advanced as they come, with three large displays, the latest avionics and even a runway overrun alert system.

While the cabin was so comfy and quiet I was happy to spend much of the day in the air, just about 40 minutes after taking off from Melbourne, I spotted the field on the port side of the plane — two left turns later, we were on the ground in Fort Lauderdale, hours ahead of the Super Bowl rush.

While we didn’t have nearly enough time on the demo flight, topping out at just 15,000 feet, the Phenom 300E can fly at up to Mach 0.80, nearly 614 miles-per-hour — a record for a single-pilot jet. It can fly more than 2,300 miles with five passengers on board — with a lighter load, it could have carried us from Fort Lauderdale to San Diego (SAN).

Embraer’s latest Phenom 300E is available to order now, for $9.65 million. Once you add the Bossa Nova package and special exterior paint, you’re looking at about $10 million (about £7.8 million) — although with just about everything in commercial and private aviation, it’s worth trying your hand at some old-fashioned negotiation, too.

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