Embraer Shows Off First Legacy 500

Test flights expected to start by the end of this month.

Embraer Legacy 500

Embraer Legacy 500

Embraer Legacy 500

Embraer last week offered its first public glimpse of the Legacy 500 at its factory in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil, ahead of the midsize business jet’s first flight, anticipated to occur later this month.

Embraer was nearly finished building the first of four flight test airplanes early this year when software problems with the fly-by-wire flight control system delayed the Legacy 500’s planned first flight by several months.

The company blamed the delay on supplier Parker Aerospace, which it said wasn’t equipped to handle full software integration of the fly-by-wire system. Embraer responded by involving its own engineers and those from BAE Systems to take over integration tasks from Parker, which is now responsible only for the fly-by-wire hardware.

“I can say that what seemed like a bad dream is now behind us,” said Embraer Executive Jets President Ernie Edwards.

The company is so confident with the progress made in recent months that it allowed several journalists access to the test airplane’s cockpit to operate systems and toy with the Legacy’s sidestick controls even as the engineering team works to put the finishing touches on the airplane.

Embraer isn’t saying exactly when the first flight will occur, but the plan appears to be to put the milestone behind it in time to talk about it at the upcoming NBAA Convention at the end of this month.

“Once first flight happens, that’s when customers really start to take an interest in a new airplane,” Edwards said.

Embraer launched the Legacy 500 and smaller Legacy 450 in 2007 as part of a strategy to become a major player in business jet manufacturing by 2015. With its light and mid-light Phenom jets now in service, first flight of the Legacy 500 imminent, and a new factory in Melbourne, Florida, Edwards said Embraer is far ahead of schedule, and in many ways has already met its goal.