Last week at EBACE in Geneva, Embraer unveiled its latest business aircraft - an executive version of the E-190 regional jet. You can read how we reported it in Flight Evening News, our unique show evening newspaper, here. The Brazilian manufacturer cannot put a foot wrong at the moment as far as business aviation is concerned. Its strategy is two-pronged: at the small end, it has launched its Phenom very-light and light jets into a suddenly burgeoing market and where, other than Eclipse and Cessna, the competitors are small, unproven players. The air taxi concept could still all go horribly wrong, in Europe and in North America, but the potential rewards are huge. A Swiss start-up ordered 50 Phenom 100s at the show and there are many others waiting in the wings.
At the other end of the market, Embraer now has two large-cabin aircraft, its ERJ-135-based Legacy and its E-190-derived Lineage 1000. Priced at $41 million, the aircraft could seriously knock Airbus’s A318-based Elite, currently the smallest large cabin business jet, in terms of price. In terms of size, it has an obvious advantage over the long-range, large-cabin offerings from Bombardier, Dassault and Gulfstream. Yes, you might say, but Embraer has no brand heritage or kudos compared with a Challenger, a Falcon or a Gulfstream. They are established European and North American corporate jet brands. Embraer is a regional aircraft maker from Brazil. It’s like comparing a Mercedes with a Kia.
But, in the new frontiers of business aviation – Russia, India and the Middle East – buyers have a lot less respect for brand than they do in Fortune 500 boardrooms and corporate aviation departments and a lot more interest in what an aircraft can offer in terms of price, room, range and extras. At least that’s the spin Embraer are putting on it.
Embraer have got the other advantage of starting from a low base and having a successful family of regional aircraft from which to develop business jet cousins. While they haven’t got much of a brand in the business aviation sector, neither have they had the opportunity over the few years they have been in the market to do their brand any damange either.