Embraer bides its time while building bizjet line

 - May 3, 2010, 12:08 PM

“The economy is getting better this year,” said Claudio Camelier, Embraer vice president of market intelligence executive jets, but it will take some time for the business jet market to climb back to the peak of $22 billion worth of deliveries it reached in 2008. A significant factor affecting new business jet sales is the number of used aircraft on the market, which peaked last year and remains high. “Many may never find new owners again,” he said.

Embraer brought its entire business jet lineup to EBACE this year, including the Phenom 100 and 300, Legacy 600, Lineage 1000 and a fuselage mockup of the Legacy 500. The seven jets in Embraer’s executive jet division neatly fill almost all the market niches in the business jet field, with one glaring exception, an ultra-long-range model. Asked about that hole in Embraer’s lineup, Camelier replied, “It’s there and we keep looking at it.”

Embraer has delivered five Phenom 300s so far this year, according to Luis Carlos Affonso, executive vice president executive jets, “because we are in ramp up.” Embraer does not break out delivery projections by model and would reveal only that it expects to deliver 120 Phenoms (100s and 300s) in 2010. “We start slowly and pick up speed,” he said. “We expect an important increase in the rate [of the Phenom 300] in the second semester.”

Embraer also does not release net order numbers (sales minus cancellations), but Affonso said, “This was not a big number [for 2009] because we had lots of cancellations and slow sales. Fortunately we had a solid backlog. And 2010 is improving; it’s better than 2009. The U.S. and Europe are still slow but improving.”
Embraer’s firm order backlog at the end of the first quarter stands at $16 billion and 3.2 years, down from a 2008 peak of $20.9 billion and 3.8 years (see page 24).

Embraer’s next business jet to enter service, the Legacy 650, is on schedule for certification and first delivery this year. Initial certification will be by Brazil’s ANAC and EASA, then the U.S. FAA. Next up after the Legacy 650 is the midsize fly-by-wire Legacy 500 and 450, with the first flight of the Legacy 500 planned for the second half of 2011 and certification in late 2012. Embraer cut the first metal on the prototype Legacy 500 on April 19.

The Legacy 650 is a longer-range version of the Legacy 600 and was launched at last year’s NBAA Convention in October. Range grows to 3,900 nm with four passengers, versus 3,400 nm with four passengers in the Legacy 600. Two Legacy 650s are flying and have logged about 95 percent of the total flight test hours. Upgraded Rolls-Royce AE3007A2 engines, with 210 more pounds of thrust than the 600’s -A1Es, received FAA type and production certification in April.

Integration of the Legacy 650’s new Honeywell Primus Elite avionics “is also progressing as planned,” according to Embraer. Avionics features include LCDs replacing the Legacy 600’s original Primus 1000 CRTs, a cursor control device and optional and standard equipment such as coupled Vnav, RNP 0.3, charts display, Fans 1/A CPDLC+ datalink recorder, Waas/LPV, XM Weather and Honeywell SmartRunway and SmartLanding. The Primus Elite system will be available as an upgrade for existing Legacy 600s and will be offered in new Legacy 600s starting in the first quarter of next year.

The 650 features a structurally reinforced landing gear that sits five inches lower than the 600, plus an aft ventral fuel tank and wet central wing box fuel tank that add 381 more gallons of fuel. Both airplanes have the same wing, but the 650 has winglets, structural reinforcements and a reshaped aft wing/fuselage fairing.

Embraer also announced that it has signed up the UK’s Inflite as an authorized service center for the Lineage 1000. Inflite has been a Legacy 600 service center since 2004 and more recently added the Phenom 100 to its capabilities. To handle the Lineage 1000, Inflite is building a new 50,000-sq-ft hangar at its Stansted base capable of fitting three Lineage 1000 heavy maintenance checks simultaneously.