• REVIEW - Embraer Phenom 100 by Carenado


    Chase

    Embraer Phenom 100 by Carenado

    A review by Marlon Carter

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    Introduction

     

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    The Embraer Phenom 100 is a relatively new light jet that competes with the popular Cessna Mustang. For many charter operations, the Phenom 100 has been a valuable asset that brings a combination of speed and efficiency to persons who require a unique and personal travel experience.

     

    Carenado is well known for their efforts in the GA aircraft genre and this time around they have stepped up their efforts with their first jet aircraft rendition. The quality of Carenado’s work in recent times has been remarkable to say the least. The release of their Phenom 100 marks a new chapter in Carenado’s history and the first opportunity to experience business aviation in all its glory. Let’s have a look at some of the features of this aircraft.

     

    Phenom 100 Features

     

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    Special Features:

     

    • Carenado G1000 Prodigy glass cockpit system.
    • Original Phenom status screens
    • Weather radar embedded in the G1000
    • Multiple CAS messages
    • Special input keyboard incorporated
    • Original Phenom systems
    • Multiple aural warnings sounds
    • Full FSX and P3D v2.0 compatible.
    • Landing and Taxi halo effect lights.

     

    Features:

     

    • Original G1000 Prodigy glass cockpit system.
    • Multiple aural warnings sounds
    • Original Phenom EADI
    • Panel dim light option
    • 3D knobs technology for operating 3D knobs
    • Full FSX and P3D v2.0 compatible.
    • HD quality textures (2048 x 2048).
    • Cold and Dark start option
    • Original HQ digital 3D stereo sounds.
    • Complete back cabin
    • Customizable panel for controlling windows transparency, instrument reflections and static elements such as wheel chocks and sights props.
    • Real behavior compared to the real airplane. Real weight and balance. Tested by real pilots.
    • Realistic night lights effects on panel and cockpit.

     

    Included in the package:

     

    • 6 HD liveries.
    • 1 HD Blank livery.
    • E50P Carenado prodigy G1000 PDF.
    • E50P Emergency Procedures PDF.
    • E50P Normal Procedures PDF.
    • E50P Performance Tables
    • Recommended Settings PDF

     

    Technical Requirements:

     

    • Windows XP with SP3 installed, Vista or 7 (32 or 64 bits).
    • Microsoft Flight Simulator FSX with SP1 and SP2 (or Acceleration Pack) installed or Lockheed Martin - Prepar3D Flight Simulator v1.4 or v2.0.
    • Pentium V/3GHz or similar
    • Minimum 2GB RAM (Recommended 4GB RAM)
    • 512MB graphics card.
    • 670MB available hard disk space.

     

    The features of the Phenom 100 are impressive and I am sure that everyone will be happy to know that it is also compatible with P3D v2.0. In this release I couldn’t spot any significantly “new” features, but nonetheless the quality of the aircraft is a nice follow up to many of the features that were included in Carenado’s previous B1900 release.

     

    Documentation

     

    The documentation that comes with the Phenom 100 is similar to their previous releases. If you were counting on a 300 + page manual for this product, you will be a bit disappointed as the information provided isn’t very detailed. One of the documents provided gives us a general overview of the aircraft’s Prodigy G1000 avionics suite. In a nutshell, the Prodigy G1000 is basically your average Carenado G1000 with a few added pages to show aircraft systems and the addition of weather radar.  Other bits of information that are provided include Performance Tables, Emergency Procedures and Normal Operation procedures. The most useful of these documents were the Performance Tables and Normal Operating procedures which gives you an accurate overview of how to fly and operate the aircraft. The Emergency Procedures PDF is a nice addition but one that may rarely be used.

     

    While the documentation is “OK” I can’t help but be a bit disappointed that a Flight Tutorial wasn’t included. Having a flight tutorial would be a tremendous aid to new pilots getting used to the Carenado G1000 which isn’t as great at the Flight1 G1000, but I must say that it is the next best option we have. Finally, the PDF document that discusses the Prodigy G1000 contains photos of the Cessna 182 G1000 which is a bit confusing, given the fact that the Prodigy G1000 is a bit different. Perhaps it was just a shortcut to save time in editing the images of the document, but it came across as having the C182T G1000 document with a few pages added to it. 

     

    Nonetheless, I would recommend using other sources of information in addition to what has been provided to get the full picture on how to fly this aircraft.

     

    First Impression

     

    From a visual perspective, no one can argue that Carenado is at the top of their game when it comes to recreating the look of an aircraft. The detail of the exterior model is striking to say the least and the interior is perhaps the most convincing yet! One of the first things that stands out about the model is its dynamic shine. As you move around the exterior of the aircraft, the fuselage gives a convincing appearance as the sun shines down onto it.

    The Phenom 100 has a very unique shape and Carenado did a fantastic job in accurately modeling this aircraft. From the placement of rivets, detail of the landing gear bay and the addition of static wicks on the wings, nearly every square inch of the Phenom 100 was recreated to the highest fidelity. As an added feature, there is an option to have static elements added to the aircraft. These static additions include wheel chocks, engine covers, pitot heat covers and more!

     

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    As you make your way into the aircraft, it becomes quickly apparent that the quality of the exterior has also made its way to the interior as well! The Cabin of the aircraft gives a vey luxurious feel due to the convincing shine and appearance of the leather seats and wood finishing. Unlike most interiors, detail of each seat is enhanced by the addition of 3D seatbelts and the slightly rough finish commonly seen on leather materials. One of the features of the interior that I especially enjoyed was the ability to lower your window shades. What made this feature outstanding is that the lowering of a window shade is also shown on the exterior model! While the ability to open and close tray tables is not modeled, few can argue that the cabin of the Phenom 100 isn’t impressive.

     

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    Moving into the cockpit, we can see that Carenado spared no effort to ensure that the feel and look of the cockpit perfectly copies its real world counterpart. The Phenom 100 cockpit isn’t very large nor is it packed with switches and dials. It features a Garmin 1000 Prodigy avionics suite that encompasses most of the interactive duties between pilot and airplane. The overall look of the avionics is convincing, but I honestly thought that the clarity of the writing on the controls of the G1000 screens could have been improved. Other interesting features of the cockpit include moveable sun shields and yoke, accurate cockpit sounds, adjustable window transparency and instrument reflections that can be turned on or off.

     

    As mentioned before, the cockpit of this aircraft isn’t very large and the textures that were used in creating the virtual cockpit perfectly gave the impression of being in a small space.

     

    The Lighting features of this aircraft rate a special mention. In the past, Carenado followed the basic lighting options which allowed you to turn on or off a number of interior lights with a single switch. This time around, Carenado has introduced an improved lighting customizable interior lighting experience which sees many of the cockpit and cabin lights having their own individual lighting controls!

     

    I can go on and on about how great a job was done, but I will let these screenshots speak for themselves.

     

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    PRODIGY 100 Flight Deck & Autopilot

     

    You might be wondering why the avionics of the Phenom 100 are called Prodigy 100 and not G1000. This is due to the fact that these two avionics suites are slightly different. Embraer worked closely with Garmin in order to create the Prodigy 100 and it is based on the G1000. Some of the major differences are the inclusion of a maintenance computer and slightly larger screens. In Carenado’s offering, the avionics that are offered replicates the G1000 systems found on their SR22, C182T and their C206. The only difference is the addition of systems pages that apply specifically to the Phenom 100 and the inclusion of weather radar. One of the features that I like about the Carenado Prodigy 100 is the option for having an electronic checklist which isn’t offered on other G1000 simulations. Another feature I enjoyed was the ease of operation. Unlike other G1000s, the Prodigy 100 was very easy to use since Carenado’s implementation of 3D knob selection makes it easy to know which knobs are being adjusted.

     

    As for my dislikes, I didn’t like the fact that the Prodigy100/G1000 still relied on the default FSX GPS data. This means that while you may be able to fly an ILS app procedure, complex SID and STAR procedures are still a no go. All things considered however, while the Prodigy 100 isn’t an in-depth simulation of its real world counterpart, it’s the perfect balance between the default FSX offering and other high end G1000 simulations.

     

    Here are a few screenshots showing the various pages of the Prodigy 100.

     

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    As far as the Autopilot is concerned, I found it was somewhat average. Some features such as VNAV and FLC either don’t work at all or they don’t work correctly. Although the Phenom does NOT have an Auto Throttle system, Carenado chose to add it in order to create the effect of the FLC mode. Personally I find this to be one of the low points of this product but I can understand the reasoning behind this addition in keeping with their simple approach.

     

    The functionality of the autopilot was very smooth and predicable. While not being able to fully experience one of the signature features of the aircraft (FADEC) was a bit disappointing, the autopilot works well and it allows you to fly with ease.

     

    Flight Experience

     

    Carenado has stressed that the flight characteristics of this aircraft are realistic and are based on real world performance data. Since I am not a real world Phenom pilot, I cannot vouch for the accuracy of that statement, but overall, I can say that the aircraft feels quite balanced. The only areas that I found questionable were the takeoff acceleration and the handling of the aircraft while hand flying. When advancing the throttles to T/O, I found that the aircraft took a considerable long time to attain V1 speed. At first I thought the aircraft may have been overweight, but after adjusting the weight and balance, the performance on the ground was pretty much the same.

     

    As a big fan of hand flying, I was quite eager to see how well the Phenom would handle without the aid of autopilot and to my surprise, the handling was actually quite good. While the aircraft may have a tendency to be “twitchy”, its overall feel is very balanced and somewhat realistic of a light jet.

     

    In order to fully test the handling and performance of the aircraft, I took the Phenom on a series of flights that varied in weather, terrain and aircraft weights. All in all the Phenom performed well though it requires a steady hand if you are hand flying in bad weather. Adjusting the weight and balance of the aircraft produces a noticeable change in the handling and if you do this incorrectly, you will definitely pay the price!

     

    The final area I thought was noteworthy focuses on the braking action of the Phenom 100. As you may already know, the Phenom along with many other light jets does not have reverse thrust as an option for slowing down after landing. While some have ground spoilers as an aid, earlier models of the Phenom 100 were not fitted with ground spoilers and Carenado’s Phenom 100 recreates the experience of flying these earlier models. This means that on landing, one should be prepared to use the brakes as a primary means of stopping the aircraft. At times, depending on your weight, speed and length of the runway, you may find yourself using excessive braking to stop the aircraft so plan your approach and landings very carefully.

     

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    On a final note, I am sure that many of your may be wondering how the Phenom 100's performance relates to FPS. The topic of frame rates is extremely important when it comes to having an enjoyable flight experience. When the Phenom was first released by Carenado, some users reported that their frame rates had dropped when using the aircraft. I found this to be the case mostly while flying in regions that contain many buildings or complex airport sceneries. On a good note however, after the latest service pack from Carenado, the performance has somewhat been improved after a few improvements to the G1000 displays. If you experience any performance issues even after the SP, then I may suggest that you turn off the options cockpit instrument reflection.

     

    Conclusion / Recommendations

     

    To be honest, my thoughts on the Phenom 100 are 50/50. On one hand, I absolutely love the aircraft. It looks amazing, the model is extremely accurate, the textures are top notch and the handling is very balanced. However, on the other hand I am a bit disappointed with the systems that have been offered (and this is just my personal opinion).

     

    The depth of systems simulation on Carenado aircraft has always been a touchy topic. While most simmers love Carenado products, it is often a bittersweet experience using Carenado’s rendition of a “complex” aircraft. Carenado has never claimed that the Phenom 100 was a full simulation aircraft, but for anyone who has used the G1000 provided by Flight1 in their Mustang or B200 aircraft, the differences between Carenado’s G1000 and Flight1’s is quite significant. While Carenado can boast of having a fully working checklist feature and the ability to now create your own custom flight plans, it would have been a major plus if a more advanced G1000 were included.

     

    So is the Phenom for you? Well that depends on your needs. If you are an avid simmer looking for a realistic product to help with procedural training then the Phenom may not be your best option. If you are an average flight Sim user who is more so interesting in visuals than in-depth systems, or just having a fun time in your simulator, then the Phenom is perfect for your needs! 

     

    Price wise, considering the amount of work that has gone into this package, the Phenom 100 is well worth its price tag of $39.95. In the end, I think Carenado did a good job with the Phenom and I would highly recommend it to simmers looking for a casual or slightly above average flight Sim experience. To simmers that are looking for more, the Phenom 100 may not be your best bet, but on days where you would prefer to have fun rather than follow in-depth procedures, this aircraft may well be worth your consideration! Well Done Carenado!

     

    Acknowledgement

     

    Special thanks to Stanislaw Drzewiecki from Drzewiecki Design for contributing a copy of their beautiful New York Airports! This package, along with their New York City scenery is a great way to experience flying the Phenom into and out of the New York area!

     

    Also, thanks to Fernando from Carenado for all of your assistance in this review.

     

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