Embraer has landed the Legacy 500 at EBACE for the first time amid growing optimism in the programme.
Although the Legacy 500 remains in flight test, the eight-seat midsize jet arrived in Geneva after completing a record distance flight of about 2,362nm (4,370km), flying non-stop from St John's International airport in Newfoundland.
The aircraft is also performing better in certification tests. As of early April, Embraer officials still seemed unsure whether the Legacy 500 would be ready to enter service in the first half of 2014, but there is no longer any doubt within the programme.
"We'll be looking at entry into service in the first half of 2014," says Ernie Edwards, president of Embraer Executive Jets. "We've gotten through 300 flight hours on the three aircraft. This has been a relatively trouble-free programme to date."
The flight-test programme is about 30-35% complete, he adds, with the avionics and fly-by-wire flight controls "almost finalised". A fourth flight-test aircraft that includes design tweaks learned from early flight-test experiences should be flying before the end of the year, Edwards says.
As the Legacy 500 test programme stabilises, Embraer is also detecting signals of a sustained market recovery outside of Europe.
"If anything, we've become more positive about what we're seeing in the North American market," Edwards says. "That beginning of an uptick in sales [that Embraer noticed earlier this year] is still there."
Although Embraer's deliveries of business jets in the first quarter of 2013 fell slightly below expectations, the shortfall was due to administrative delays rather than order cancellations and deferrals, Edwards says. "We expect the second quarter to take up that slack," he adds.
The Legacy 500 will join a static line at EBACE that features the full line-up of Embraer business jets, including the Phenom 100 and 300, Legacy 600 and 650, and two models of the Lineage 1000. It is a sign of Embraer's growing strength in the business jet market, where it has risen to supplant Beechcraft as the fifth-largest manufacturer. At the same time, Embraer's larger profile at EBACE comes with certain disadvantages, Edwards admits.
"The hotel bills are getting larger," he says.
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