Embraer Praetor 600 in flight'
Embraer Praetor 600 in flight'

Embraer Praetor 600

The airframer delivers more for less—again—with a $21 million model that it claims has the longest range of any super-midsize bizjet.

Even before the pandemic, economic life was brutal for Brazilian airframer Embraer, best known for its lines of regional and business jets—the Phenoms, Legacies, and Praetors. During 2019 and 2020, it lost nearly $1 billion, eliminated 3,000 jobs, and furloughed the remaining 30 percent of its workforce. An opportunity to buoy its regional jet business collapsed when prospective partner Boeing—facing a myriad of its own aircraft grounding and pandemic problems—pulled out of the $4.2 billion deal. 

For a time, it seemed the company’s only hope was in the form of a Chinese life preserver. But aggressive cost-cutting and deft financial maneuvering have kept Embraer aloft and independent, and so far this year revenues are improving. Nevertheless, deliveries of the company’s new aircraft—military, business, and commercial— took a serious dive last year, falling from a collective 198 in 2019 to 130 in 2020; business jet deliveries dropped from 109 to 86. 

The company’s business jet value proposition—offering more for less—prevented that decline from being even steeper. Embraer’s light Phenom 300E continued its reign as the world’s best-selling twin-engine business jet, with 50 deliveries in 2020. And Embraer continued deliveries of its “fat” Legacys, known as the Praetors, which are improved midsize and super-midsize jets that offer redesigned cabins, tweaked engines, new winglets, more fuel capacity, and upgraded avionics. 

These aircraft compete directly with the midsize Citation Latitude and super-midsize Citation Longitude, both from Textron Aviation’s Cessna division. The Praetor 600 actually bests the Longitude in terms of range and cabin width, and unlike the Longitude, it offers full fly-by-wire flight controls. 

Embraer announced it was jumping into the midsize bizjet pool in 2008 with a $750 million development program to birth a pair of aircraft that were eventually named the Legacy 450 and 500, the chief difference between them being cabin length and range: the 500’s cabin is three feet longer and it flies nearly 400 nautical miles farther. The new jets gave Embraer a full product line, from light to large-cabin business aircraft. These “mids” featured a six-foot-tall, flat-floor cabin that was nearly seven feet wide and full fly-by-wire flight controls, a first for aircraft in this category, and Collins Pro Line Fusion avionics. 

Embraer Praetor 600

Praetor 600's 'Midsize Plus' Cabin

Technically, the 500’s cabin falls slightly short of what you’d expect from a traditional super-midsize, creating a niche I once called “midsize plus.” It can carry up to 12 passengers and transport four slightly more than 3,000 nautical miles, with high-speed cruise at Mach 0.82. Passengers can bring far more luggage with them than they could on almost any other midsize or even super-midsize jet, as the model offers 150 cubic feet of baggage space. The aft lav closet on the Legacy alone offers 40 cubic feet of luggage space. 

Interior layouts on the 500 vary but you could order large-cabin features including a big, well-appointed galley with hot and cold water; cabin-attendant seating; and main cabin, two-zone executive seating for eight or nine with an optional three-place, berthing divan. The single executive seats can also be rotated back-to-back and reclined together to provide comfortable sleeping accommodations for up to four passengers. The aft lavatory features a solid door, vanity, basin, and vacuum toilet. 

Embraer Praetor 600

The cabin management system is Honeywell’s Ovation Select, which facilitates passenger lighting, entertainment, and communications via personal control units at the seat position or galley touchscreen and can interface with high-speed satcom and a variety of consumer electronics. HD monitors can display moving maps and news, sports, and weather. The flight deck is comfortable and stylish, and the Pro Line Fusion avionics provide the latest in convenience and safety. 

When the Legacy 500 came to market in 2014, it was attractively priced at nearly $20 million, but after several years of sales it became clear to Embraer that to stay competitive, the Legacy would not only need to meet the range capabilities of the new Cessnas, it would have to exceed them. The competition ostensibly also provided Embraer with an impetus to refresh the cabin. Embraer then decided to rename the upgraded aircraft “Praetors,” after ancient Roman judicial officers. 

Aircraft Upgrades: Legacy 500 vs. Praetor 600

The aircraft—which were first announced in 2018 and first delivered in the following year—represent big improvements from their predecessor, particularly in the case of the Praetor 600, which can hold 2,928 more pounds of fuel than the Legacy 500 thanks to the addition of two belly tanks, boosting range by nearly 1,000 nautical miles. That’s nearly 500 nautical miles more than the Cessna Longitude offers, albeit at a speed 16 knots pokier at long-range cruise power setting. 

According to Embraer, the 600’s range is longer than that of any other super-midsize and enables nonstops from London to New York. Carrying 15,986 pounds of fuel will do that for you. It also boosts the Praetor’s maximum takeoff weight by 5,000 pounds above the Legacy 500’s to 42,858. Nevertheless, fully loaded, the 600 can still alight from runways shorter than 5,000 feet thanks to 492 pounds of extra blow per side from the Honeywell HTF7500E engines courtesy of a software update to the engines’ full authority digital engine control system. Payload with full fuel is 2,533 pounds—enough for almost full seats and full baggage. 

Embraer Praetor 600 cockpit
Embraer Praetor 600 cockpit

Pilot Report: Embraer Praetor 600

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Pilot Report: Embraer Praetor 600

A flight in Embraer's new Praetor 600 super midsize jet reveals a host of noteworthy features.

In the flight deck, the already capable Pro Line Fusion avionics get additions including radar with vertical weather display and predictive wind shear, a display of other aircraft traffic, a synthetic vision guidance system, an enhanced vision system, and an optional head-up display and inertial reference system. The synthetic vision guidance system allows landings with clouds as low as 150 feet and forward visibility down to 1,300 feet. When it’s dark, foggy, and wet outside, this is a nice capability to have. 

These improvements are laudatory, but the cabin is where the 600 really shines. The stylish Bossa Nova interiors are heavy on carbon fiber, piano-black accents, and elegant stitch patterns. The cabin altitude is just 5,800 feet while the aircraft is at 45,000 feet. Passengers can enjoy optional high-speed Viasat Ka-band connectivity for streaming even large files. Gogo Avance L5 air-to-ground high-speed connectivity covering the U.S. and parts of Canada is also optional. An “upper tech panel” displays flight information and cabin management controls that appear when needed, then vanish, leaving a clean, smooth look. A new, three-place divan is more orthopedically friendly, with a 105-degree seating angle. In 2020 Embraer enhanced the interiors with the addition of COVID-era cabin air HEPA filters and a one-touch electric lavatory door. 

Compared with the Legacy 500, the Praetor 600 looks better, feels better, and goes farther. And with it, Embraer delivers more for less—again. 

2021 Embraer Praetor 600 at a Glance

Price: $21 million

Crew: 2 

Passengers: 8–12 

Engines: 2 Honeywell HTF7500E, 7,528 pounds of thrust each

Avionics: Collins Pro Line Fusion 

Range: 4,018 nm, 4 passengers, NBAA IFR reserves

High-speed cruise: 466 kt

Maximum takeoff weight: 42,858 lb

Takeoff distance at maximum takeoff weight: 4,717 ft 

Landing distance (4 passengers): 2,165 ft 

Ceiling: 45,000 ft

Cabin dimensions: 6 ft (H), 6 ft 10 in (W), 26 ft 10 in (L)

Baggage: 155 cu ft