Embraer has delivered the 500th Phenom business jet in slightly more than 5.5 years.

The delivery on 5 June of a Phenom 300 to Brazilian start-up Prime Fraction Club crosses a key milestone, reflecting Embraer’s rapid ascension to the top of the light jet segment.

The event “validates our commitment to offer the market differentiating products and excellence in services”, says Marco Túlio Pellegrini, president and chief executive of Embraer Executive Jets.

Embraer launched the Phenom series in 2005 and delivered the first two aircraft by the end of 2008.

Between the launch and the first delivery, the overall light jet market both reached its apex in 2007 and began a steady decline from which it has still not recovered.

The arrival of the Phenom 100 in 2008 and Phenom 300 in 2009 came as Embraer’s main competitors suffered from the market’s collapse. One Embraer rival – Hawker Beechcraft ­­– went bankrupt, closed light jet production and sold the surviving turboprop and piston assembly lines to Cessna parent Textron.

Embraer did not emerge from the depths of the market crisis completely unscathed. Phenom deliveries peaked in 2010 at 126 jets, but dropped to 77 two years later, according to the General Aviation Manufacturing Association (GAMA). Shipments of Phenom jets rebounded to 90 last year and are expected to be roughly the same again this year.

In five years, the Phenom jets have also been improved as products. Last year, Embraer rolled out a series of interior and performance improvements on the Phenom 100. The new Phenom 100E features a multi-function spoiler to improve landing performance. Early concerns about interior quality have been answered with a new collection of 11 new interior designs.

The lessons learned on Phenom interior have been applied to the midsize Legacy 500 and Legacy 450 programmes. Embraer carried out a more rigourous development and testing effort for the interiors of the Legacy 500 and 450, allowing hundreds of potential customers and test teams to sample and provide feedback on the reliability and quality of the interior features.

The Phenom 300 also has been upgraded with touch screen avionics with the Garmin G3000 flightdeck.

Source: FlightGlobal.com