Embraer's first production Phenom 100 very light jet is rapidly approaching first flight and an aggressive flight "verification" programme to follow after roll-out from the company's San José dos Campos factory on 16 June.

Driving the schedule is Embraer's desire to certificate and begin deliveries of the six-seat jet one year after the initial test flight - around the same time as it expects to first fly the larger and more complex Phenom 300 light jet, says Henrique Langenegger, Embraer vice-president for executive jets.

After receiving its demonstrator paint scheme the aircraft is set for ground vibration testing to verify that structural resonances have been accurately predicted by analytical models, a step that will allow test pilots to "open the envelope" faster, says Langenegger. First flight, which Langenegger says will most likely take place in July or August, will occur after a successful series of ground tests, systems checks and high-speed taxi runs.

The aircraft's integrated software suite, developed in partnership with Garmin, is already complete and loaded, says Langenegger, although "there may still be a small update needed".

Pending a successful flight, Langenegger says the first of the three flight-test aircraft will be used to check dynamic configuration items, flying qualities and lift and drag coefficients. Although elegant on the outside, the aircraft inside will be adorned largely with flight-test equipment, including a new wireless data system that will allow flight-test engineers for the first time to record and monitor data on pen tablet PCs, making for a paperless test environment.

Speeding up the tests will be a data-reduction programme - developed on the E-Jet programme - that tells flight-test engineers in real time whether a particular test should be repeated.

The second test aircraft, the wing and fuselage of which were recently mated, will be used for systems testing, high speed and flutter testing along with fatigue and static loads testing. The third and final test aircraft will be used primarily for interior testing, says Langenegger.

Confidence in the design, apparent in Langenegger's description of the flight-test programme as a "verification" effort rather than a certification programme, is a result of a great deal of pre-work.

Embraer designed the aircraft structures and systems using tools developed for the E-Jets, and created "integration rigs" to test critical functions like temperature control and air flow verification and the effects of certain electrical anomalies and failures.

As such, the test programme, ideally, will be an exercise in verifying what has already been shown in simulation runs and on integration rig testing done in advance, says Langenegger.

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Source: Flight International