Embraer’s President of Executive Jets Ernie Edwards revealed that the company’s newest facility—at the Melbourne, Fla., International Airport—is in the process of completing its first airplane, a Phenom 100. The airplane will be delivered to its owner later this year. The 80,000-square-foot Melbourne plant has 80 employees, Edwards said, and is geared up to do final assembly, interior completion, and painting of the Phenom 100. Up to five Phenom 100s at a time can be accommodated on the plant’s assembly line. In 2010, a total of 100 Phenom 100s were delivered—all of them built at Embraer’s Brazilian manufacturing sites.
Embraer also reports that a newly-issued service bulletin will let owners of Phenom 300s install a belted lavatory seat. This will expand the airplane’s seating to nine passengers. To date, there are 50 Phenom 300s in service worldwide.
Meanwhile, at the National Business Aviation Association’s static display for its annual convention, a cabin mockup of the Embraer Legacy 500—the company’s $18 million, Mach 0.82, 3,000-nautical-mile, up to 15-passenger mid-sized jet—is on show. Embraer says the Legacy 500 will have the Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion avionics suite. Autothrottles will be standard on the 500, but an autobraking system will be an option. Edwards said that ground tests of the Legacy 500 will begin in December but that plans for the airplane’s first flight have slipped to 2012.
In a review of business aviation’s economic status, Edwards noted that 2010 corporate profits were at levels that exceeded the pre-recessionary highs of 2006. The obvious was not mentioned: that corporate buyers in the aggregate were not responding by buying more business jets.
Edwards gave two scenarios in Embraer’s 10-year forecast of worldwide business jet sales activity. In the period 2012-2021, Embraer predicts deliveries of 11,275 airframes if the world economy shows sustained growth. But if the current downturn persists, deliveries will only reach 9,125 units.
Embraer seems a bit insulated from the current recession at this juncture. For example, Embraer claimed a 19-percent share of the total business jet market in 2010. Not bad for a company that began delivering business jets a mere three years ago. Today, there are 450 Embraer business jets flying worldwide. North America is home to 170 of those airplanes, Latin America comes in second with 100 airplanes, and Europe claims 90 Embraer business jets. In addition, 18 of Embraer’s large-cabin business jets—comprising the Legacy 600 and Lineage 1000—will be delivered in 2011, Edwards said.
Last but not least, Embraer announced it has hired a brand spokesman. It’s the enduring, energetic martial arts movie star Jackie Chan—a celebrity who Embraer says reflects its core corporate values. Chan has purchased his own personal Legacy 650—the latest entry in Embraer’s large-cabin line. It sports a unique paint scheme that features Chan’s name in both Chinese and English, plus a dragon-themed fuselage paint treatment. Chan will take delivery of his airplane before the end of the year. And it will be hard to miss if it taxis to a ramp near you.