EMBRAER EXPECTS to have launched a finance and leasing operation to support sales of the EMB-120 Brasilia turboprop and EMB-145 regional jet by the time of the first delivery of the latter aircraft late this year.

The Brazilian manufacturer is already starting to establish the structure of the operation internally, says Embraer North America president Sam Hill. The company has watched the swing towards in-house leasing by other airframers and, buoyed by financial backing from its new owners following privatisation in 1994, is moving to plug the gap in its sales operation.

The Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based North American operation - which is now responsible for sales and product support outside South America, Europe (except the UK) and Africa - has also set up a used-aircraft division selling aircraft taken in trade for Brasilia and EMB-145 sales worldwide.

Hill says that the new 50-seat regional jet is on course to meet its October certification schedule, allowing deliveries to start in November.The aircraft is performing better than expected at this stage of the test programme, showing a 6kt (11km/h) improvement in cruise speed, 130km (70nm) increased range and 8% better climb rate.

The company is investing over $60 million this year, mainly on production line and product-support improvements. It is also stepping up marketing to try and increase orders for the EMB-145. There are now 13 firm orders, 24 options and 127 letters of intent for the aircraft.

Hill says that the introduction of the regional jet, with its $14.8 million price tag and low operating charges, will increasingly push turboprop rivals into niche markets in the 30- to 36-seat range.



Source: Flight International