Emma Kelly/LONDON

Embraer aims to sign customers to launch business jet versions of its regional jet family by the end of this year.

The Brazilian manufacturer, which has been evaluating the business aircraft market for the past six months, is completing market studies and a business plan for the project, says Jules Rondepierre of the manufacturer's recently formed Corporate Aircraft division.

Although Embraer has not committed to a launch, it is "seriously talking" to potential customers, says Rondepierre. The move would be an "obvious extension" for Embraer, he says, adding that regional aircraft competitors Bombardier and Fairchild offer corporate products. "The question is whether we have the production capacity [following the recent large order wins for the commercial aircraft products]," he says.

Embraer is focusing on its 30/ 40-seat ERJ-135 regional jet to launch the business aircraft programme, believing that it is best suited to a corporate role. The Rolls-Royce Allison AE3007-powered ECJ-135, would be offered in two versions: a corporate shuttle and an executive model, with ranges of 3,275km (1,770nm) and 5,550km, respectively.

The ECJ-135 would be followed by the ECJ-170 and, later, the rest of the regional jet family. Embraer has not had discussions with Dassault on the corporate aircraft proposal, says Rondepierre. Dassault, which builds a range of corporate jets, is a member of the French aerospace grouping that includes Aerospatiale Matra and Thomson-CSF, which recently announced the purchase of a 20% stake in Embraer.

Source: Flight International