EBACE Convention News

Embraer Ready For The Recovery

 - May 14, 2012, 11:00 AM
Marco Tulio Pellegrini, senior v-p of operations and COO of Embraer's Executive Jets division.

When the Embraer announced the launch of its Embraer Executive Jets division in 2005 and its intent to become “a major player” in the crowded world of business jet manufacturing, eyebrows were raised and there was a certain amount of skepticism. After all, the ambitious Brazilian airframer had just unveiled its Phenom 100 and Phenom 300 entry-level and light jets, and its only business jet in service at the time was the Legacy 600, a 16-passenger aircraft derived from its ERJ 135 regional airliner.

But raised eyebrows and skepticism began to disappear as order books for the two Phenoms quickly began to fill, and the company announced later that same year the launch of the Lineage 1000, derived from its E190 airliner and meant to fill a market niche between the Boeing Business Jet and its competitors, the Bombardier Global Express and Gulfstream G550.

Today, a combined total of more than 190 Legacy 600s and follow-on Legacy 650s are in service, as are a combined total of more than 300 Phenom 100s and Phenom 300s, and 10 Lineage 1000s. Altogether, more than 500 Embraer business jets are in service across the world in 42 countries.

And Embraer is filling market gaps, most recently with the Legacy 500 and 450 mid-size jets.

In many ways, the 450 and 500 are identical, sharing fly-by-wire flight controls, stand-up cabins with flat floors, 6,000-foot equivalent cabin pressurization, the Honeywell Ovation Select cabin management system and max cruise speed of Mach 0.82.

The $19.875 million Legacy 500, carrying up to 12 passengers and with a range of 3,000 nm, will be the first into service. A first flight is expected in the third quarter of this year and the first delivery in late 2013 or early 2014.

The Legacy 450 is shorter and will accommodate up to nine passengers. The $16.470 million airplane will have less range, at 2,300 nm, and is expected to enter service in the second half of 2014.

There is one obvious major market niche remaining for Embraer–that of ultra-long-range, large-cabin aircraft, a space currently occupied and fiercely fought over by Bombardier and Gulfstream. It is a market that Embraer will approach at some point, said Marco Tulio Pellegrini, senior vice president of operations and COO of Embraer Executive Jets at a recent media briefing in Brazil, “but not now.” In the meantime, he said, Embraer is focused on making improvements in its current family.

Phenom Upgrades

Recent upgrades of the Phenom 100 include TCAS II Change 7.1 (a package that met the European Aviation Safety Agency’s forward-fit mandatory date of Mar. 1, 2012, and meets the retrofit mandatory date of Dec. 1, 2015). Assembly line installations began in March this year. Still to come is an optional 330-pound payload increase; satellite weather coverage is already available in Europe.

The basic Phenom 100 cabin configuration provides room for four passengers, but a new layout replaces the standard forward wardrobe with an optional seat; a lavatory seat certified for takeoff and landing allows accommodation for six passengers.

In the planning is an optional cabin seat with the same functions as the seats in the larger Phenom 300, including swivel and recline. Buyers may also choose an optional refreshment center or cabinet in lieu of the standard forward wardrobe.

The Phenom 300 also has TCAS II Change 7.1, as well as SMS capability in the Prodigy cockpit (based on Garmin’s G1000). Satellite weather in Europe is to be available later this year.

New in the cabin is an optional belted toilet seat certified for landing and takeoff. Among options still to come is a two-place side-facing divan. New choices in fabric colors are standard.

Legacy 650 Upgrades

The Legacy 650 is the upgraded version of the Legacy 600, differentiated primarily by Rolls-Royce AE 3007A2 engines, tanks for 2,430 additional pounds of fuel, bumping the range from 3,450 to 3,900 nm. The Honeywell Primus Elite cockpit avionics package was introduced in the 650 and is also available in the 600.

An upgrade of the three-zone cabin is available for both the 600 and 650 and most of it can be seen in the Legacy 650 demonstrator aircraft on display here at EBACE. Mariana Santos, Embraer Executive Jets head of product strategy for the 600/650, describes the cabin upgrade as “a process of evolution” to keep up with the latest technology and standards of comfort. The standard and optional upgrades are available in both the 600 and 650.

Among the standard cabin equipment improvements are Honeywell’s Ovation Select cabin management system, touch-screen “slide-and-select” entertainment controls, 1080p high-definition displays, a 32-inch credenza-mounted monitor and a redesigned galley.

Embraer promotes its Lineage 1000 as a home-away-from-home, emphasizing a foyer entrance, five separate cabin zones, a 14-foot divan facing a 42-inch monitor, up to three lavatories (two standard) and optional shower and double bed. There’s also an optional zone module with three seats, a bar and ice container that can hold up to five one-liter bottles.

The Lineage is the largest business jet operating at the New York City-area Teterboro Airport and Pitkin County Airport in Aspen, Colorado. As of late April, the twinjet was seeking approval to operate at London City Airport. The airplane also recently received hot-and-high certification for operations out of airports such as La Paz, Bolivia, which has an altitude of 13,000 feet. The hot-and-high capability is being offered as an option, initially to U.S. and Brazilian operators.

Service and Support

According to Edson Mallaco, Embraer’s vice president of customer support and services, long-term success for the executive jets division is not merely a matter of selling airplanes, but also a matter of the quality and availability of support and service.

To this end, the OEM has invested more than $200 million since 2006 and is continuing to invest as it looks forward to the Legacy 500 and Legacy 450 going into service.

Today, Embraer operates more than 60 service centers worldwide, including five company-owned service centers in Brazil, France and the U.S. Adding to the service and support repertoire is a $25 million Embraer-owned center in Sorocaba, Brazil, that is to open in 2013.

In addition, there are seven parts distribution centers worldwide and on-site parts stock at 43 locations. Most recently, the company entered an agreement with Air Works India Engineering to create an Embraer Executive Jets spares repository in Bangalore. The total Embraer fleet numbers 14 in India, where the Directorate General of Civil Aviation recently granted certification to the Legacy 650.

First Quarter 2012 Encouraging

The numbers in Embraer’s fiscal year 2011 and fourth quarter 2011 report, released March 21, were not altogether encouraging. The report noted total business aviation deliveries in 2011 declined to 99 from 144 in 2010. In the fourth quarter 2011, business jet deliveries totaled 40 aircraft, 11 fewer than for the same period in 2010, and Embraer Executive Jets’ share of total company revenue dropped from 23 percent in 2010 to 19 percent in 2011.

Embraer CEO Frederico Curado described 2011 as “marked by signs of continued recession. On the other hand,” he said, “Embraer is encouraged by the selection of the Phenom 300 light jet by fractional operators NetJets and Flight Options.” The combined firm orders are for 150 airplanes (business jets and airliners), with a value of more than $2 billion, including options. And he also pointed out that Embraer did meet its 2011 revised revenue guidance of $1 billion for its execution aviation division.

The initial 2012 results were considerably more encouraging. Numbers released April 17 for the first quarter 2012 reported an increase in deliveries of executive jets from eight for that period in 2011 to 13 for the first quarter this year. The 2012 deliveries broke down to four Phenom 100s, eight Phenom 300s and one Legacy 650.

Also in the first quarter 2012, Embraer delivered to the Brazilian market the 300th jet from the Phenom family and the 100th executive jet. Other highlights include the sale of three Lineage 1000s to China’s Minsheng Leasing group, and delivery of the first of 13 Legacy 650s ordered by the Chinese leasing company. Also in the first quarter, the company delivered a Legacy 650 to martial arts film star Jackie Chan; it was one of the most popular aircraft on display at the March 2012 Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition in Shanghai.