Embraer has disclosed another schedule delay of several months on the Legacy 450/500 programme, which has struggled to introduce several advanced technologies to the class of midsize business jets.
Ernie Edwards, president of Embraer executive jets, said on 5 April that the Legacy 500 is now "on track for certification in 2014". As of January, Embraer had planned to achieve certification of the eight- to nine-passenger business jet by late 2013, which was already a year behind schedule.
Edwards did not want to offer a specific schedule for entry into service, but said it could happen in the second half of 2014. The first delivery of the seven- to eight-passenger Legacy 450 should follow 12 months later.
"We don't want to be specific because I don't want to make any promises at this stage," Edwards says.
If Embraer achieves its new schedule target, the Legacy 500 will be about two years late overall.
The new timeline suggests the flight test campaign will continue well beyond a year after the first jet completed its debut flight in November 2012. Two more jets have since entered the flight test campaign and a fourth aircraft is being prepared to join them.
Embraer had previously assigned blame for the delays on the fly-by-wire system designed by Parker Aerospace, but Edwards says there are no specific problems that have prompted the new delay.
"There's nothing in the programme that's alarming to us today," Edwards says. "But we are in the early stages."
Embraer expects to release a new software block for the flight control system later this month, Edwards says. The discoveries during flight tests also appear to have necessitated other structural and systems changes.
Edwards notes that the fourth prototype that enters service will be used as the first aircraft in the flight test campaign that conforms with the new production standard for the Legacy 500.
"We're already seeing some elements on [the first and second prototypes] that we're incorporating on numbers three and four, and that takes a little time," Edwards says. "But that's what the test programme is all about."
Despite the delays, Embraer is confident that the Legacy 500 and 450 will be hitting the market at precisely the time that demand for such aircraft recovers from an extended depression.
"If what we're seeing is correct then our entry into service with the Legacy 500 is bang-on at the right time," Edwards says.
Brian Foley, president of an eponymous business jet consultancy firm, agrees with Edwards' assessment. "From an industry perspective, delay of the Legacy 500 is relatively inconsequential," Foley says. "I'm forecasting that Embraer will take market share from each of the major manufacturers over the next decade."