Dassault Aviation and Embraer are discussing the possible joint development of an all-new light business jet and a long-range corporate version of the Brazilian manufacturer's ERJ-170 regional airliner.

Embraer has previously played down potential involvement in a business aircraft venture with Dassault, part of a French consortium with Thomson-CSF and Aerospatiale Matra, which has taken a 20% stake in Embraer.

The idea is being promoted by Dassault, which is keen to extend its product line, although Embraer officials stress that the talks are at a "preliminary" stage.

Embraer has been studying the business aircraft market for several months, with a view to launching corporate versions of its regional jets, initially focusing on the ERJ-135.The corporate-configured ERJ-170 would compete at the top end of the business jet market against the Airbus A319CJ, Boeing Business Jet, Bombardier Global Express and the Gulfstream V.

Satoshi Yokota, Embraer vice-president, industrial, says the aircraft could feature the enlarged wing of the ERJ-190-100/200 to provide extra range. "Since we would need a lot of fuel, the capacity of the ERJ-190, and the larger wing, would be needed," he says. Using the bigger wing would boost climb performance and initial cruise-altitude capability.

Mauricio Botelho, Embraer president and chief executive, confirms that Dassault has expressed interest in the joint development of a new small business jet. The aircraft would be "smaller than the ERJ-135," he says.

Detailed discussions on the potential project are due to get under way early next year.

Source: Flight International