Cessna did it last year, Eclipse has just done it and now Embraer is going to do it.
The concept jet.
Car companies have been doing it for years. Unveil a concept car at a motor show to create some excitement, grab some headlines and capture some customer feedback. Maybe something like it will make it into the showrooms. Maybe not.
To keep up the momentum behind its move into business aviation, at September's NBAA bizav show in Atlanta, Embraer will unveil a full-scale mockup of a mid-size jet to fit between its Phenom 300 and Legacy 600. A concept jet, not a real one...yet.
At last year's NBAA Cessna unveiled a full-scale mockup of its Large Cabin Concept Citation with the express intent of "gathering feedback...to determine if there is a favourable business case". After outings at EBACE and Paris earlier this year, a launch at this year's NBAA looks possible.
At July's Airventure show in August, Eclipse went one better when it flew in the Eclipse Concept Jet, designed and built in just six months. Described as the "ultimate tool for evaluating the emerging single-engine jet marketplace", the ECJ "is currently not available for sale", says Eclipse.
Embarer's plans to unveil the mid-size concept mock-up to NBAA were announced by bizjet boss Luis Carlos Affonso at Brazil's LABACE show. The company has been studying what to do next for some time, and has made no secret of its plans to fill the gap between the Phenom and the Legacy with one, or maybe two, new jets.
But while a "more aircraft for your money" approach has helped bizjet newbie Embraer carve out a growing slice of the light-jet and large-cabin markets, the company has struggled to find a sure-fire differentiator in the mid-size market, which is defined and dominated by the value-for-money Hawker 800 series.
It will be interesting to see what Embraer thinks it can bring to the middle of the market. It may just be a concept mock-up on display, but NBAA will be no tentative toe in the water. It will be a final validation of the company's plans.