The new Embraer Legacy 500 made its first appearance outside Brazil as it flew here from Brazil to EBACE, where it is on display in the static park. Yesterday, Embraer Executive Jets president Ernie Edwards reported that the airplane successfully underwent cold-soak tests in a freezing hangar at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida following its first leg from São Jose dos Campos, Brazil. The next leg was a short hop to Embraer’s U.S. manufacturing facilities in Melbourne, Florida, where guests viewed the airplane and order-holders defined their preferred interior configurations.
From there, the fly-by-wire Legacy 500 flew a four-hour leg to St. John, Newfoundland, before traveling on a six-hour nonstop to Geneva.
Edwards said he took the controls between Melbourne and St. John, ascended to FL450, leveled off and flew the airplane for about two hours. He also took the controls for an hour and a half on the leg to Geneva, he said, adding that he hadn’t “manhandled” an airplane since 1986, when he moved from flying for a Saudi businessman into sales.
“The airplane was extremely easy to fly,” he said. “You wouldn’t have to engage the autopilot to maintain your heading and altitude. It’s the first fly-by-wire business jet in its category and it really is a pleasure to fly.”
Edwards predicted that the Legacy 500 and its upcoming sister ship, the Legacy 450, together will eventually outsell all of Embraer’s other business jets, including the smaller Phenoms.
Turning to the macroeconomic climate, Edwards noted that global GDP growth continues to languish at 2.9 percent, in line with the forecast Embraer issued at last year’s NBAA convention. Although he noted a gradual recovery in the U.S., particularly for the Phenom 100 and 300, he lamented the fact that a record number of wealthy individuals around the world haven’t spent their money on business jets at a rate one might expect during a more brisk economic period. Business jet traffic, meanwhile, started the year tracking upward, on a similar path to that of 2012 in the U.S., while Europe has moved on a somewhat slower track, but also in a positive direction.
“The recovery is in slow motion,” said Edwards. “But U.S. profits are at record levels and the numbers of high-net-worth individuals are at record levels.” More often those wealthy individuals come from China, India and Southeast Asia. However, while there appears no shortage of wealthy people, they haven’t showed the confidence to spend, he said.
For its part, Embraer (Booth 7041) has shown no lack of confidence, as it prepares to mate the Legacy 450’s wing to its fuselage in June and fly it by the end of the year. All three Legacy 500 prototypes have taken to the air and have performed more than 300 hours of flight-testing. Meanwhile, improvements to production programs include the introduction during this year’s second quarter of the Phenom 100’s new premium seats, which are capable of reclining, swiveling and forward lateral movement. Now certified in 54 countries, the Phenom 100 just won type approvals from Chinese and Angolan authorities.
In the Phenom 300, Embraer expects certification of a new Garmin G3000-based avionics system featuring three 14.1-inch high-resolution displays during this year’s fourth quarter.
For the Legacy 600 and 650, the OEM just received certification from Brazil’s ANAC, the FAA and EASA for required navigation performance (RNP), vertical navigation (Vnav), future air navigation system (FANS) and localizer performance with vertical guidance (LPV).
In the large-cabin category, Embraer’s Lineage 1000 has achieved 5.5-degree approach certification for operations into London City Airport, allowing nonstop service from Moscow, Istanbul, Cairo, the Canary Islands and Reykjavik. Here in Geneva, a Lineage 1000 outfitted with an all new interior featuring new cabinetry by List, new seats, divans, electric doors and tables and enhanced noise suppression sits in the show’s static display.
For the first time in an Embraer business jet, an infrared enhanced vision system allowing for lower instrument approach minimums is to appear on a Lineage 1000–expected by the end of 2014. The system, made by Elbit, will also appear in the 2013 edition of the Lineage 1000 as a retrofit.
Embraer is punctuating its presence here at EBACE with five airplanes on static display, including the Legacy 500 and Lineage 1000, a Phenom 100 and 300 and a Legacy 650. o