Embraer Expands in Florida / Names Its Midsize Jets

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Embraer surprised the press gathered at the European Business Aviation Conference (EBACE) in Geneva in May when it announced that it will conduct final assembly of some of its new Phenom 100 and 300 light jets in Melbourne, Florida. Before the announcement the company had said it would deliver the new jets only at its facilities in Brazil.

The new assembly and completion operation is expected to be up and running by 2011. Major subassemblies of the airframe will be sent from Brazil to Florida by ship. Final assembly, painting, interior completion, production test flying and finally delivery will take place at a new $50 million facility being built on the Melbourne Airport. Embraer will also construct a design center where customers for many of the company's business jet models can view available interior options and paint schemes to make their selections.

The new assembly facility is part of a major Embraer expansion in the United States that will establish both company owned and authorized service centers across the country. Embraer reported that certification testing for the light jet Phenom 100 was progressing on target and first deliveries would take place later this year. The larger Phenom 300 is ahead of schedule in making its first flight and is expected to enter service about one year after the 100.

Embraer also revealed the names and other details of the two new midsize jets it had announced earlier. The so-called "midlight" jet was officially named the Legacy 450, and the longer cabin "midsize" model is called the Legacy 500. Embraer has been using the Legacy name for its larger business jet that is a derivative of the ERJ regional airline jet. The company has more than 100 letters of interest in the midsize jets and began taking firm orders at EBACE. The prices were set at $15.25 million for the 450, and $18.4 million for the 500, all in 2008 dollars.

The new Legacy jets have the same flat-floor, 6-foot-high cabin cross section, but the 500 is longer. Embraer says the 450 will cruise at Mach .78 and the 500 at Mach .80, fastest in the class, and range with full reserves stretch to 3,000 nm for the larger 500. The jets are powered by Honeywell's HTF7000 family of engines rated in the 6,000- to 7,000-pound thrust range. Collins new Fusion integrated avionics system will be standard, including synthetic vision and autothrottle system. A head-up guidance system and enhanced vision will be options.

Embraer expects the Legacy 500 to enter service in late 2012 followed by the 450 approximately one year later. BMW Group Designworks is creating the interior appointments for the airplanes as well as for the smaller Phenoms.