In a ceremony conducted on the first day of LABACE, Embraer accepted certification approval from ANAC, Brazil’s civil aviation authority, for its $20 million Legacy 500 midsize business jet. U.S. FAA certification is expected in the coming weeks, with European approval to follow soon after.
The ANAC approval is the culmination of a six-year development program for the Legacy 500. Certification will allow delivery of the first aircraft next month. The first machine (s/n 005) is for an undisclosed Brazilian industrial customer, who will use the aircraft to link the company’s facilities around the country.
“We are very pleased to confirm that all Legacy 500 design goals have been achieved or surpassed. The airplane is better than we predicted,” Embraer Executive Jets president and CEO Marco Túlio Pellegrini told a press conference here in São Paulo yesterday. “This aircraft is a game-changer. With greater range and better field performance than originally planned, the Legacy 500 sets a new standard for the midsize class. It’s going to be a very flexible aircraft that will open up new markets for us.”
Examples of those better-than-expected certified figures include a high-speed cruise of 466 knots (design goal of 460 knots), a takeoff distance of 4,084 feet (4,600-foot goal), landing distance of 2,122 feet (vs 2,400 feet) and a range of 3,125 nm (3,000 nm).
Since the aircraft’s first flight on November 27, 2012, the four-aircraft development fleet has flown more than 1,800 flight hours in the test and certification process. Laboratory tests with rigs for avionics, electrical, hydraulic and environmental systems accounted for another 20,000 hours.
To complete certification, Embraer installed a complete interior in the fourth development Legacy 500, which is being shown to the public for the first time at the LABACE show. The aircraft will be retained by the company as a demonstrator, and also used to speed the maturity program, performing around 600 takeoff/landing cycles in a short period. With the certification milestone achieved, Embraer is moving into the production phase. Up to six are to be completed before the end of this year, including two more aircraft to be used as company demonstrators. Production will ramp up next year.
The fly-be-wire Legacy 500 features the Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion avionics suite. The aircraft is powered by a pair of Honeywell HTF7500E engines, and the same company also provides its auxiliary power unit, Ovation Select cabin management system, cabin pressure control system and air conditioning system.
Meanwhile, Embraer is also well advanced in the testing of the Legacy 450 mid-light business jet, which first flew on December 28 last year. Certification of the 450 is due for the middle of next year, with 600 flight hours scheduled to complete all tests. As it uses more than 90 percent of the systems of the larger Legacy 500, including the fly-by-wire flight controls, the 450 does not require as extensive a certification test program. Currently, the sole Legacy 450 development aircraft is not flying, but is due to return to flight next month.
What’s Next for Embraer?
While Embraer is concentrating on bringing the Legacy 450 and 500 to the market, and making them successful, the Brazilian OEM is also thinking about what follows. While the company is playing its cards close to its chest with regard to what the next project might be, there is an obvious gap in the current product line-up for an ultra long-range aircraft between the Legacy 650 and Lineage 1000.
In any case, Embraer’s next executive jet will be a new design. “To be very competitive in this market, we can’t do a derivative. They just don’t work any more. It needs to be a clean-sheet design,” Marco Túlio Pellegrini told AIN. “Customers are clever. They buy the best product. You need to bring best-in-class: it’s not enough to do a facelift.”