A Flying Start for Embraer's Legacy 450

Sam Kessler (Online Editor)
With the first Embraer 450 off the production line and in the air, a new bar has been set... and it's very high indeed

No matter how many aerospace specialists claim otherwise, there is no perfect business jet. It all depends what you’re look for, be that luxury, efficiency or trans-continental capabilities. That said, Embraer’s new Legacy 450 is very, very close.

For most, developing a jet from scratch is a daunting prospect. For obvious reasons, most are just evolutions of previous designs, incorporating the latest technology and avionics. For Brazilian heirs to the aviation legacy of Alberto Santos-Dumont, Embraer, that simply wasn’t enough.

One of the least conventional in an industry already known for skimming the cutting edge, Embraer took it upon themselves to create the best mid-light jet possible. Not that any manufacturer aims to create something substandard of course; but Embraer realised that to truly excel they would need to start with a blank sheet.

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The result was the Legacy 450. Originally showcased back in 2008, it’s a testament to the level of development involved that the first has only just come off the production line and, from what we’ve seen so far, looks to live up to its immense promise.

There simply seems to be no sign of compromise in Embraer’s new mid-light aircraft. There’s no sacrifice of size for speed, no trade-off between space, comfort and technology; it’s like Embraer have pushed the limits of what they can do in every direction and thrown them together. Which, considering the blank sheet approach, probably isn’t far from the truth.

First off, calling the Legacy 450 a mid-light jet seems a little over-modest; while its range may be shorter than it’s sibling, the Legacy 500, it shares the same fuselage cross-section, essentially making it one of the largest in its class. 

With a decent range of 2,900-nm, the 450 has more than enough distance for the average business trip, even if it needs to stop short of crossing continents. Combined with a cruising speed of 462 KTAS, it has all the airport-hopping ability a business jet needs.

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It’s pretty obvious that the Legacy’s nearest rival is the Citation Latitude, which the newer jet has firmly in its sights. The 450 is essentially Embraer’s answer to Cessna’s own midsize and, while it might not quite match the impressive range of its nemesis, the Legacy has one major advantage – luxury.

You expect a certain level of comfort and exclusivity in any private jet; if you’re spending millions on an aircraft, you should be able to enjoy spending time in it. It should feel worth every penny, for more than just convenience. There’s no danger of anything else in the 450.

Embraer have harnessed that large fuselage to create the first 6ft high cabin in its class, complete with flat floors and a wonderful amount of space – five inches more wide than its nearest competitor. Embraer haven’t taken that space for granted either; two fully berthable club seats can be turned into flat beds, with novel storage options dotted everywhere.

More than the space however is just how solid it all feels. Comfortable, leather-clad armchairs are a counterpoint to the usual cheap-feeling seating, while every fold-out table and kitchenette drawer opens and closes smoothly and securely. Small things yes, but then luxury is in the details – especially when you take off without the whole cabin seeming to rattle.

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Indeed, smooth take-offs and landings are pretty much a given with the 450s level of avionics technology. It’s the first jet in its class to incorporate full fly-by-wire and synthetic vision system which in layman’s terms means the advanced avionics computer does most of the hard work. This makes everything easier for the pilot of course but, more importantly, gives the passengers the smoothest ride in class.

The biggest question is how does it stack up overall against the others in its class? Well, it has the fastest cruising speed, largest cabin, highest standards of luxury and the most advanced avionics suite of any of its competitors. So all in all pretty well really.

Embraer Legacy 450, £10,500,000

Embraer Legacy 450

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