Embraer Executive Jets officially opened its expanded assembly facility in Melbourne, Fla., today, adding Legacy 450 and 500 production to the existing Phenom 100 and 300 line. Florida Gov. Rick Scott, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and other elected officials joined company president and CEO Marco Tulio Pellegrini and Gary Spulak, Embraer’s president of its North American division, in cutting the ceremonial ribbon.
The expansion, started in October 2014, more than doubles the size of the facility, to 149,000 sq ft/124,600 sq m, allowing the Legacy 450/500 and Phenom 100/300 lines to be side-by-side under one roof. On May 13, the Phenom line was moved into its new position, which is 90 degrees to the previous production flow, while the first Legacy 450 started rolling down the line on May 16.
An adjoining 31,000-sq-ft/25,920-sq-m completion center/flight-prep building—which, unlike the previous flight-prep area, has a fire-suppression system to accommodate fueled aircraft—is complete, but won’t open until June 17, after apron paving is finished. A separate two-bay paint facility and two-bay delivery center for the Legacy midsize jets will open in October and December, respectively, Embraer Executive Jets managing director and COO Phil Krull told AIN.
According to Krull, Legacy assembly will start out slow in Melbourne; the first Legacy 450 now on the line 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. However, the facility will deliver just one Legacy 450 this year, with four expected to come off the line at Melbourne next year, Krull said, with ramp-up expected to increase in 2018.
All Phenom assembly will be shifted to the Florida site as of July 1, he noted. An Embraer spokesman told AIN that the last Phenom to be produced in Brazil—a Model 300—will be delivered next month. Phenom 100 and 300 assembly in Melbourne—currently coming off the line at a rate of five per month—will increase to six a month by year-end, according to Krull. This is expected to rise to seven per month sometime next year—the maximum capacity with two shifts.
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.