Embraer adds engineering to Melbourne portfolio

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Embraer has begun hiring for a new engineering centre to be located across from its executive aviation final production site and global customer centre at the Melbourne International airport in Florida.

The $24 million, 6,227m² (67,000ft2) facility, to be called the Embraer Engineering and Technology Center USA, is the company's first engineering centre outside of Brazil and will employ 200 engineers within five years says Embraer.

"The [facility] will conduct research and development activities for both product and technology development across Embraer's business lines, with the first assignments primarily focused on executive jet interiors", says the company. "It will include a laboratory for the development and testing of materials and interior items."

Embraer last year began building Phenom 100 and Phenom 300 business jets at a new 7,435m² final production plant at the airport, using a single lean manufacturing five-station line and subassemblies received on container ships from Embraer's Botucatu, Brazil plant. Once interiors shipped from Brazil are installed, completed aircraft are moved to a 3,440m² facility nearby, where technicians can paint two aircraft at a time. Total build time is about six weeks per aircraft.

The company plans to produce a total of 30 Phenom 100 and Phenom 300 jets this year with a staff of 200 employees working two shifts, five days per week. Embraer expects to produce 60 business jets at the facility in 2013. The plant is designed for a maximum capacity of 96 aircraft per year.

An associated 5,390m² customer centre, opened in December, is designed for US and European business jet buyers to choose options for their jets and to take delivery, which saves approximately three days in travel time compared to receiving the aircraft in Brazil. Prices will be the same regardless of where the aircraft are produced, says Embraer.

Melbourne airport officials say they invested more than $240,000 in the project by renovating a 2,323m² building on the airport for Embraer's new engineers to use rent-free for 18 months while the new facility is built.

"This new facility will create the right jobs at the right time," says Melbourne airport executive director, Richard Ennis. "These are aerospace engineering jobs, and there is no question that Embraer is acting now to tap into the talent pool idled by the end of NASA's shuttle program."

Ennis adds that the incentives were offered "so that Embraer can expedite its hiring of engineering staff."