EBACE Convention News

Embraer Starts Legacy 450/500 Production in U.S.

 - May 24, 2016, 10:00 AM
Embraer has doubled the size of its U.S. factory in Florida to accommodate assembly of Legacy 450s and 500s.

The first Embraer Legacy that will be assembled in the U.S.–a Model 450–started rolling down the line at Embraer Executive Jets’ Melbourne, Florida final assembly plant last week. An expansion project at the factory, started in October 2014, more than doubles the size of the facility, to 124,600 sq m (149,000 sq ft), allowing Legacy 450 and 500 assembly to be added alongside the existing Phenom 100 and 300 production. All Phenom assembly will be shifted to the Florida facility by July 1, Embraer Executive Jets managing director and COO Phil Krull told AIN.

Krull said that the fuselage for the Legacy 450 arrived from Embraer’s Faria Lima facility in São José dos Campos, Brazil, early last month; the midsize jet’s wings and empennage, built at the company’s Evora factory in Portugal, arrived late last month. Twenty-five Melbourne employees recently completed four weeks of training at the Legacy 450/500 production line in São José dos Campos in preparation for the start of midsize jet assembly in Florida.

According to Krull, Legacy assembly will start out slow in Melbourne–the first Legacy 450 built there won’t be delivered until mid-December. Two Legacy 450s will first be assembled at the facility, followed by two 500s. After that, this mix will be determined by customer demand, he said. The facility will be able to assemble up to 96 Phenoms and 72 Legacys annually.

There are three other main elements to the expansion project: a new 29,260-sq-m (35,000-sq-ft) paint facility that can accommodate the Legacy 450/500, a 25,920-sq-m (31,000-sq-ft) completion center/flight-prep building, and a new dedicated delivery center for the midsize Legacy jets. The completion center/flight prep building is attached to the final assembly facility and was also finished this month. A formal ribbon-cutting ceremony for these buildings is planned for early next month [June].

Structures are quickly coming along on the new paint facility and delivery center, which are scheduled to open in the next few months. The paint bay is large enough to hold two Legacy 500s, or possibly even one Legacy 650 if needed, said Krull, who added that the facility could be expanded in the future as Legacy assembly in Melbourne ramps up.

Embraer is now ramping up production rates at the Evora facility in Portugal. The manufacturer also has its major service center in Portugal, which is operated by its Ogma subsidiary. Both facilities are close to the capital Lisbon.

Meanwhile, Phenom 100 and 300 assembly–currently flowing at a rate of five per month–will increase to six a month by year-end as production of these light jets shifts entirely to the U.S. in July. This is expected to rise to seven per month sometime next year–the maximum capacity with two shifts, said Krull, who pointed out that Phenom assembly could exceed this rate if a third shift were added.

Between five and 10 Legacy 450/500s will come off the line at Melbourne next year, he said, with ramp up expected to increase in 2018. Up to 600 new employees will be added at the U.S. facility for Legacy production, with 50 of these positions planned to be filled by year-end.