Embraer is close to finishing paperwork for the Phenom 100 very light jet's icing performance and software for the aircraft's flap system, the two remaining hurdles standing in the way of Brazilian and US Federal Aviation Administration certification for the six-seat VLJ.

Henrique Langenegger, vice-president of executive jet programmes for Embraer, says that "non-compliances" with the Eaton Aerospace-provided flap actuation software had continued to slow the certification process, but that Embraer had stepped in to help.

The issues were not linked to the architecture of the software, but more related to a lack of experience in certificating to DO-178B standards by a team of US- and India-based Eaton software developers, says Langenegger. DO-178B is the de facto process in the aviation industry for developing software for flight-critical applications.

Misunderstandings over icing-protection system testing also slowed the programme. Langenegger says Embraer had expected to flight-test only the single most critical leading edge ice shape noted in windtunnel tests, but the FAA ultimately required the company to flight-test the top four shapes, with an associated "fine tuning" of the aircraft's stick-pusher stall protection system.

The agency has been increasing its focus on icing-protection system safety, adding new tests for inter-cycle ice, the ice that forms between cycles of the pneumatic leading-edge boots, and residual, or "bridge ice" - the ice that forms on the boots when inflated. The additional flight tests were complete by late November and the FAA was reviewing the data. "Even though we had to fly more than we had anticipated, it gave us more assurance that we are designing a safe aircraft," says Langenegger.

Embraer says certification is imminent and 10 or more aircraft will be delivered this year. The company has already completed flight training for several new owners in two experimentally certificated aircraft based at Dallas-Fort Worth Alliance airport. Sources say some customers have already booked airline flights to Brazil in mid-December to pick up their aircraft.

Aircraft profile: Phenom 100

Source: Flight International