Two New Jets Formally Enlist in Embraer Family

 - April 9, 2008, 10:12 AM

Embraer revealed further details of its entrants into the midsize jet market, the seven- to 12-passenger midsize jet (MSJ) and mid-light jet (MLJ) at a press event in Washington, D.C. yesterday evening. The MSJ and MLJ share a common fuselage cross-section with six-foot stand-up headroom, Honeywell HTF7500-E turbofans, Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion avionics and Embraer’s first full closed-loop fly-by-wire flight control system. This commonality will help keep the cost of the program to $750 million during the next six years, according to Luis Carlos Affonso, executive vice president for executive jets. Embraer expects the FAA to grant a common pilot type rating for the MSJ and MLJ as it did for the company’s 170/190 airliner family. Embraer’s board of directors approved formal launch of the two-jet program on March 28.

In April 2005 Embraer announced plans “to invest heavily in business aviation. At that moment, the Legacy [600] was the only product,” said Affonso. A month later, Embraer launched the Phenom 100 and 300 models. The Phenom 100 is on schedule for certification and delivery this year, and the Phenom 300 is scheduled to make its first flight in the next month or two. At the top of the Embraer executive jet lineup is the commercial airline 190-derived Lineage 1000. Embraer has accepted more than 100 letters of intent for the MSJ and MLJ (secured by $90,000 and $70,000 deposits, respectively), but the company will wait to reveal the names and model designations and prices of the new jets until the EBACE show May 20 to 22 in Geneva, where it will begin taking orders for the MSJ and MLJ, he added.

The MSJ and MLJ neatly fill a niche in Embraer’s business jet offerings, which don’t yet serve the midsize jet market. One remaining hole may be for a long-range large jet, and Embraer filings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office suggest that this could be the next model Embraer business jet. Embraer has reserved the designations Legacy 400, 500 and 700. Because the MSJ and MLJ are smaller than the Legacy 600, it could be assumed that the two new jets will be dubbed the Legacy 500 and 400 models. A long-range larger jet might be a candidate for the Legacy 700 moniker. Embraer has made a strong effort in branding the Phenom, Legacy and Lineage models, Affonso said, and wants to continue using the convention of a brand name followed by a number. “I’m giving a hint,” he said.

Embraer surveyed more than 5,000 potential customers with plans for 15 different jets to see what they wanted, including faster jets and some with smaller cabins. “The planes you see today are the best tradeoff,” said Affonso, “the best planes our customers want.”

The MSJ and MLJ are entering a crowded market and will compete against airplanes such as Cessna’s XLS+ and Sovereign, Bombardier’s all-composite Learjet 85 and Hawker Beechcraft’s Hawker 750 and 900XP. The MSJ and MLJ will be built with about 20 percent composite materials. Interiors will be designed by BMW Group DesignworksUSA.

Unlike their competitors, the MSJ and MLJ will have the latest closed-loop fly-by-wire flight control system, operated by sidesticks mounted on each side of the spacious cockpit. This will be Embraer’s first closed-loop fly-by-wire system, which allows engineers to take full advantage of fly-by-wire’s abilities to enhance control and performance as well as provide full envelope protection. The 170/190/Lineage models use an open-loop system in which elevators, rudders and roll spoilers are fly-by-wire controlled, but ailerons are conventionally hydraulic-controlled, and pilots use yokes instead of sidesticks. The 170/190/Lineage has angle-of-attack but not full envelope protection. The MSJ and MLJ will be the smallest business jets with a full fly-by-wire system and the Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion avionics suite with synthetic vision system a standard feature and optional head-up display and enhanced-vision system. “Any modern airplane should be fly-by-wire,” said Affonso.

MSJ performance includes 3,000-nm range (long-range cruise, NBAA IFR reserves, 200-nm alternate) with four passengers or 2,800 nm with eight passengers, at Mach .80 and takeoff field length of 4,600 feet (sea level, ISA, mtow). The MLJ’s range is 2,300 nm (same parameters) with four passengers and 2,200 with eight passengers, at Mach 0.78 and takeoff field length 4,000 feet. Both jets share a high-speed cruise of Mach .82; maximum payload of 2,800 pounds and payload with maximum fuel of 1,600 pounds; maximum altitude of 45,000 feet; and 6,000 foot maximum cabin altitude.

In a departure from how it builds the Legacy 600 and Phenoms completely in-house, Embraer is negotiating with risk-sharing partners to help build the MSJ and MLJ. While Affonso didn’t identify possible partners, he did say that a partner will build the jets’ fuselages. Honeywell is supplying the 6,000 to 7,000 pound thrust HTF7500-E engine as well as the nacelle and thrust reverser system in a contract valued at more than $23 billion.

The MSJ will enter service first, in the second half of 2012, followed about a year later by the MLJ. “We are very happy to have bridged the gap between the Phenom and the Legacy [600],” Affonso said.