Embraer completes Melbourne project, delivers 1st US-built Phenom 100

Destined for Executive AirShare, the first US-assembled Phenom 100 sits bathed in light in the delivery hangar of Embraer's global executive jet customer center on Dec 5. The aircraft completed its maiden flight 3 days later and was delivered to Executive AirShare on Dec 20.

Embraer opened its new global executive jet customer center at MLB (Melbourne FL) on Dec 5. The event marked the successful completion of the company's 3-year, $50-million project to establish a US location for the manufacture, completion and delivery of Phenom 100s and 300s, alongside a worldwide customer center and showcase for Embraer's entire executive jet portfolio.

On stage for the ribbon-cutting with senior Embraer executives were Florida Governor Rick Scott, as well as representatives of the US Senate, Florida State Senate, Brevard County, the City of Melbourne, the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast, and the Brazilian Consulate General. Directly following the ceremony, Executive AirShare CEO Bob Taylor accepted the keys to the first US-assembled Phenom 100 (s/n 50000246), on display in the adjacent delivery hangar.

Managed and fractional ownership provider Executive AirShare, headquartered at MKC (Downtown, Kansas City MO), is the world's largest operator of Phenom 100s and 300s. (It also operates Beechjet 400s and King Airs.) The company took delivery of its first Phenom 100 in Apr 2009. Including this first US-built example, it now has 13 of the type, as well as 5 Phenom 300s.

Taylor confirmed that Executive AirShare has 22 more Phenom 100s on order—all of which will be assembled at MLB—and 6 more 300s.

Embraer Pres & CEO Frederico Curado headed the push for the customer center. He described its on-time completion and the concurrent handover of the first US-built Phenom 100 as confirming Embraer's commitments to be closer to its customers and to maintain a strong partnership with the region.

Embraer Aircraft Holding Pres Gary Spulak, Florida Governor Rick Scott and Embraer Pres & CEO Frederico Curado at the moment of cutting the ribbon for the customer center.

The first floor of the customer center includes an events area, a 17,000 sq ft delivery hangar and a mockup showroom. A Legacy 500 cabin mockup was in place on the day of the opening ceremony. Embraer Executive Jets Pres Ernie Edwards noted that it will be joined soon by a Phenom 100 and 300 and, ultimately, by a Lineage 1000.

The second floor features 5 design studios in which customers can consult with designers in selecting fabrics, colors, veneers, carpets, etc. A similar number of delivery suites overlook the delivery hangar itself. The customer center currently has a staff of around 50.

Curado confirmed delivery targets for the MLB plant, which are essentially unchanged from earlier forecasts. The company plans to deliver 30 US-built Phenom 100s in 2012, "some" Phenom 300s by 2H2012, and a total of 60 Phenom 100/300s in 2013.

Ultimately, MLB will be producing 8 aircraft per month for an annual production of 96. At least for now, Embraer has no plans to build other models at MLB.

Embraer Executive Aircraft Managing Dir Phil Krull explains that main structures—fuselage, tail and wing assemblies—for the Phenom 100/300 are built at Embraer's QCJ (Botucatu SP) plant.

Until the MLB facility came on line, all Phenom final assembly took place at GPX (Gavião Peixoto SP) with customer completion at SJK (São José dos Campos SP). Now, says Krull, a proportion of QCJ's output is shipped from the port of Santos to MLB via Miami FL—a process that takes about 3 weeks. North American firms supply some 60% of Phenom components, which are delivered directly to MLB.

The Phenom assembly line at MLB is run as a paperless operation, and production itself follows identical practices to those used at GPX. The assembly process employs a 5-station line—capable of building 100s and 300s simultaneously—and allows a build time of about 6 weeks.

Once complete, aircraft are moved into the nearby paint facility.
One advantage for North American and European Phenom customers is that they can pick up their aircraft 2 or 3 days sooner from MLB than from SJK.

Base price is unaffected, says Edwards—any differences in price will stem from individual customer options and different countries' registration requirements.

According to Embraer Aircraft Holding Pres Gary Spulak, more than 25% of current employees at MLB are former NASA technicians and contractors, many of whom worked on the Shuttle program. Embraer expects to have 200 or more people at the MLB production facility, which, starting this year, will likely go to 2 shifts working 5 days a week. —Phil Rose


Honda Aircraft's 3rd FAA-conforming HondaJet—its 2nd flight test unit—left the ground for the first time on Nov 18 at GSO (Intl, Greensboro NC), site of the company's world headquarters. In previous flights, the 1st test aircraft has reached a top speed of 425 KTAS at FL300, a climb rate of 4000 ft per minute and a maximum operating altitude of FL430. The company plans to begin flying 2 additional flight test aircraft in 2012. It also will begin structural testing of one more HondaJet this year.

Boeing Business Jets has delivered its first BBJ to Nanshan Jet of Yantai, China. BizJet Intl, the US subsidiary of Lufthansa Technik, will complete the aircraft's interior with seats for 28 passengers. Three of 4 BBJ orders and 3 of 7 deliveries in 2011 were to customers in China.

Gulfstream's supermidsize G200 has reached the end of its production run after 14 years and 250 aircraft. Originally known as the IAI Galaxy, the 8 to 10-passenger G200 was designed and marketed by IAI subsidiary Galaxy Aerospace, which Gulfstream acquired in 2001. The G200 fleet has flown more than 581,000 flight hours and completed more than 351,000 takeoffs and landings, with a dispatch reliability rate of over 99%. The last G200 is scheduled for delivery in late Dec 2011.

Certification flights of the Hawker 200 light jet have been put on hold. The aircraft has flown 100 hrs since Mar 2010 and was scheduled for certification by the end of 2012. However, Hawker Beechcraft CEO Bill Boisture notes that light jet sales have been hit hard since the 2007–08 downturn and show no signs of recovery. "Given the fragile global economic situation and its impact on the current and [forecast] light jet segment, we have determined that the prudent management decision is to slow the pace of the completion of the Hawker 200 certification program until indicators reflect a healthier light jet market," he explained in a Dec 2 letter to employees.


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