Embraer on track to fly Legacy 500 in third quarter

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Embraer is warning that a recovery in the business jet market to its 2008 peak may not be reached until the start of next decade - although its most optimistic forecast puts the date at 2016.

The Brazilian airframer, which is basing its outlook on between 8,660 and 11,275 deliveries, across all makes, between 2012 and 2021, said 2012 would be a "pivotal year", with positive signs including strong demand from emerging markets, such as China, and US corporations making record profits. However, the "main blocker to a recovery is a stubborn used aircraft inventory", says Marco Tulio Pellegrini, chief operating officer of Embraer Executive Jets.

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 © Embraer

The Embraer Legacy 500 completed its first taxi test on 13 March

Embraer will shortly expand its range of business jets to seven, from only one a decade ago, the Legacy 600. The first of a pair of all-new mid-range jets, the Legacy 500, is due to fly in the third quarter and enter service at the end of next year, with its smaller stablemate, the Legacy 450, joining it in flight testing in the second half of 2013, a year before its first delivery. In the past few weeks, Embraer has completed several programme milestones with the Legacy 500, including the first taxi test of aircraft 001 on 13 March and power-on for the second prototype on 9 March.

Meanwhile, Embraer is working to launch a dedicated production line for its super midsize Legacy 600 and 650 variants at its factory in Harbin, China. The facility, a joint venture with China's AVIC, stopped producing the ERJ-145 regional jet in April 2011. Pellegrini says the plant has been kept open, with the 200 employees being retrained to assemble the business jets, which will be destined for the Chinese market.

He says Embraer is "waiting for final government approval" but hopes to begin assembly later this year and deliver the first jet by the end of 2013. Capacity will be 10 aircraft a year, but actual production will "depend on demand", says Pellegrini.