I flew on a $20 million Embraer Legacy 500 private jet and understand why Jackie Chan bought one

Benjamin Zhang
Sunday 17 September 2017 13:36 BST
  • The Embraer Legacy 500 is a midsize private jet introduced in 2014
  • It costs $20 million and can fly non-stop between New York and LA.
  • The Legacy 500 seats between eight and 12 passengers. 

Every product needs a good pitchman. For the Embraer Legacy 500, that person is movie legend, Jackie Chan. The kung fu star and Academy Award winner is a former Embraer brand ambassador and owns a small fleet of the company's private jets, including the first Legacy 500 in delivered to China.

According to Embraer, Chan uses the $20 million Embraer 500 for shorter trips within China while a larger airliner-based Legacy 650 is used for trans-oceanic flights.

As a lifelong fan of Jackie Chan, I was curious to see what drew the actor to the Legacy 500. Recently, Business Insider got the chance to take a test flight on board one of the Embraer's demonstrator at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey.

The afternoon flight took us north over the upstate New York and New England before return to New Jersey.

Here's a closer look at our flight on the Embraer Legacy 500.

We arrived at Teterboro Airport on a sunny July afternoon. Waiting for us on the airport's busy tarmac was a silver and blue Legacy 500.

Overall, the Legacy 500 is 68 feet long and 21 feet tall with a 66 and a half-foot wingspan.

Introduced in 2014, it is the Brazilian airplane maker's latest midsize private jet.

While our demonstrator was built in Brazil, production of the Legacy 500 has shifted to Embraer's factory in Melbourne, Florida.

Aesthetically, the Legacy 500 is eye-catching but does so without the imposing physique of a big Gulfstream G650 or the quirky design of little HondaJet. In other words, it exudes a certain understated elegance.

The Legacy 500 is powered by two Honeywell HTF 7500E turbofan engines, each production more than 7,000 pounds of thrust.

In addition, the plane is equipped with a Honeywell auxiliary power unit in the tail of the plane that can generate electricity and be used to start its engines.

Step inside and the Legacy 500 really starts to impress.

According to Embraer, the Legacy 500 has the roomiest cabin in its class and the only one that allows passengers to stand up without the need of a footwell running along the middle of the plane.

In total, the Legacy 500 can seat 8 to 12 passengers depending on how the customer configures the aircraft.

The Legacy's cabin is pretty adaptable. It can be optioned with individual lounge seats or...

...With an optional divan.

All of the seats can be converted into beds for sleeping passengers.

In the back of the Legacy 500, you'll find a bathroom complete with a toilet.

Normally, the toilet is hidden under a cushioned seat.

In between the passenger cabin and the cockpit is the plane's galley complete with stone flooring.

As we prepared for takeoff, I take my seat at the front of the cabin. It's one of the few instances where you get to experience intense acceleration while facing backward.

As well launch down Teterboro's runway, the Honeywell turbofan engines roars to life. Although the cabin remains fairly quiet. The thrust from the engine is forceful, but not jarring.

Since I was facing backward, the thrust pushed me firmly against my seatbelt rather than into my seat.

After the plane reached its cruising altitude, we had a light dinner and a glass of Champagne. The Legacy 500's maximum operating altitude is 45,000 feet.

During the flight, I was able to chat with Embraer's vice president of interior design, Jay Beever.

Jay is famous for his stunning concept interiors that evokes everything from a Texas ranch to a Japanese zen garden. From the glamour of Hollywood to the elegance of a classic luxury yacht.

According to Jay, when it comes to private jet interiors, the devil is in the details. For instance, a few minor tweaks are the difference between whether a simple cup holder is elegant or plain.

In the Legacy 500, the cupholders have a metal ring separating the plastic and the fine wood veneer. It creates the illusion that the plane makers had to drill through a layer of wood and a layer of metal just to install the cup holder.

Since private jets are meant to have a service life that spans multiple decades, Jay has hidden of the plane's tech to give the interior a more timeless look.

Speaking of technology, the Legacy 500 is equipped with wifi connectivity, a full in-flight entertainment system, and a touchscreen cabin control system.

The Legacy 500's cockpit features a fully integrated Rockwell Collins Pro Line avionics suite with four 15.1 inch high-definition displays.

In addition, the Legacy 500 features fly-by-wire control flight technology with side-stick controls. Pilots also have access to a full head-up display.

According to Embraer, the Legacy 500 has a range of nearly 3,600 miles and can make non-stop flight between the east and west coast of the US. The Embraer also has a maximum cruising speed of 536 mph.

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Read the original article on Business Insider UK. © 2016. Follow Business Insider UK on Twitter.

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