Sources close to competition reveal decision as cabin design changes are made

Embraer has selected L-3 Avionics Systems to supply the common cockpit for its Very Light Jet (VLJ) and Light Jet (LJ). The Brazilian manufacturer plans to announce the major suppliers at next month’s National Business Aviation Association show, but sources close to the competition confirm L-3 has won based on its SmartDeck integrated avionics.

Some 300-350 engineers from Embraer and its suppliers are now working at the manufacturer’s Sao Jose do Campos headquarters on the joint definition phase for the VLJ, which is scheduled to fly in the first quarter of 2007 and enter service in mid-2008. This phase will end early in November with the preliminary design review, says Louis Carlos Affonso, senior vice-president, executive aviation.

Several design changes have already been made. The cabin cross-section, which is shared by the VLJ and LJ, has been changed from circular to slightly egg-shaped to provide more width at the passenger’s feet. “The weight penalty is small,” says Affonso. “And it does not increase drag as most of the extra wetted area is covered by the wing fairing.”

Embraer has also added brake-by-wire with anti-skid to the VLJ specification, to increase safety. “We worked with our vendor and found that we could make it feasible for this size of aircraft,” the company says.

Joint definition of the larger LJ will begin early next year, leading to a maiden flight in the first quarter of 2008 and entry into service in mid-2008. “It is not our goal to have common part numbers for the VLJ and LJ,” says Affonso. “Our goal is to have the best performance for each segment.” The cockpits will be common, but with greater functionality standard in the LJ. “Or goal is a common type rating, but we cannot guarantee it at this time,” he says.


Source: Flight International