My Time Flying Phenom N108JA
My time flying Phenom N108JA, a 2009 Embraer Phenom 100, started September 27th 2010. My total Jet time prior to this flight was less than 1 hour but I decided it was time to get my first type rating. I didn’t have a compelling reason to get a type rating other than to improve my professional skills, this was reason enough for me. Each make and model of jet requires its own type rating (with a few exceptions). I had to decide which jet I wanted to spend my savings account on, knowing I was only able to attempt to earn my money back in that model of jet. I have appreciated the VLJ’s (very light jets) since they were introduced into the market at the end of 2006. The Cessna Citation Mustang was the first VLJ introduced and they have since delivered over 400 of these airplanes. The Phenom 100 was first delivered in 2008 and they have delivered about 240 airplanes to date. Though I have been a “Cessna” guy for years, growing up in their line of aircraft, I wanted to be able to compete for work and there were already dozens of certified Mustang pilots on the west coast. I did some research and it appeared that there was only a handful of pilots certified in the Phenom 100 on the west coast. My plan was to get rated in an aircraft, fly my initial operating experience hours and then help others get their ratings and initial operating experience. I decided there would be less competition with the Phenom 100 and I found access to one that was based near my home airport.
It was late August 2010, I had just returned from my honeymoon flying a Cessna 206 around Kenya, I was feeling very refreshed and ready to focus on the task at hand. I was studying the systems and procedures I would need to know for the Phenom 100 type rating. My instructor in the aircraft was $800 a day, the aircraft was $1400 per hour and the fuel was $600 an hour. I wanted to be as efficient and self sufficient as possible. I read the pilots operating handbook cover to cover, created over 300 flash cards to test my memory and printed out a full color 48 X 36 inch poster of the flight deck that I pinned to the dining room wall. I spent a full week deep in study before I even took my first flight, I was so sick of studying, my first flight couldn’t come quick enough.
The hugely anticipated day finally arrived, it was time to go flying in 8JA. It was September 27th 2010 and I was going to be putting the Phenom 100 through its paces. I met my instructor Max at 8am and we briefed the flight. At the time I wasn’t concerned with the flight, I was concerned with starting the airplane, I had never started a jet before. We stepped through all of the checklists and it was finally time to go flying. Our plan was to depart Van Nuys California on a flight plan to Victorville California where we would perform maneuvers and several approaches. To be completely honest I remember almost nothing of this flight, I don’t think I ever looked out a side window and I barely looked out the windshield. I was staring at all of the instruments, trying to get the maneuvers accomplished with precision. By the time we were back at Van Nuys I was covered in sweat and this airplane has great A/C. I had flown 8JA and made my first landings, we added 1.5 hours of flight time to my logbook, more than doubling my total jet time and I headed home with a huge smile on my face.
The next four days were much of the same but with each flight I became more comfortable with the maneuvers and was occasionally able to take in the view out the windows. It was incredibly challenging and rewarding at the same time, I was becoming a jet pilot.
Before I knew it I had taken 4 training flights in 8JA and Max was confident in my ability to pass my check ride with the examiner. I parked 8JA on September 30th and did my best to get some rest, knowing that my check ride was scheduled for 10am the next morning. I didn’t get any sleep that night, I went through all of my study materials again, ate a good dinner and drank lots of water. With the sunrise I went to the airport, hours early, to get the airplane staged and everything exactly as I wanted it for the flight. My examiner Kevin showed up on time and after a quick introduction we went straight into the exam. First we went through the systems and limitations then onto procedures and regulations. I was sweating inside but performing well and Kevin was pleased with my knowledge. I passed the academic portion of my exam and now it was time to go flying. We performed every maneuver on the practical exam. We did stalls, steep turns, engine shutdown and restart, unusual attitude recovery, single engine approaches, single engine missed approaches, normal landings, no flap landing, normal takeoffs, engine failure takeoff, it was incredible. After 2 hours and 20 minutes I landed back at my home airport of Van Nuys, I was officially a brand new Phenom 100 pilot.
At first it was difficult for me to get more flight time in the Phenom 100. I did a few flights here and there, trying to build time so I could get on the insurance. Things have a way of working out and 7 months after I got certified, my good friend Erik bought a third of N108JA. It worked out perfect, I had enough hours to get on the insurance and he needed a pilot. We had several adventures with N108JA over the next year taking it to some fun places like Santa Fe New Mexico and Ketchikan Alaska. Also during this time I was able to help several other people obtain their type rating in the Phenom 100. It was a great time.
Unfortunately that chapter is closing, N108JA is sold and is moving out of the area. I don’t know what the next chapter is going to hold for me but I know that I will make an adventure of it.
Some Fun N108JA Numbers
Longest Nonstop Flight I took in 8JA – 3.4 hours Van Nuys to Vancouver BC
Longest Single Day of Flying in 8JA – 5.6 hours Van Nuys to Seattle and Back
Longest Trip in 8JA – 1408 NM to Ketchikan Alaska
Shortest Leg ever flown in 8JA – 10 NM from Oakland to San Francisco International
My total flight time in 8JA – 142 hours
My total landings in 8JA – 117 (all but 1 were awesome)
Number of cancelled flights in 8JA because of Maintenance issues – ZERO
Number of on-time flights with my friend Erik onboard – ZERO 🙂
Price to rent 8JA for my Type Rating – $12,600
Cost of Fuel for Type Rating Flying – $4,147
Cost for Instructor – $3,200
Cost for Examiner – $1,500
Value of Initial Type Rating – $ Priceless