Brazilian manufacturer to consider small twin-turbofan as part of wider evaluation of potential future aircraft projects

Embraer has initiated preliminary concept studies of a small "air-taxi" aircraft in conjunction with engine manufacturers as part of a wider evaluation of future projects beyond its current regional jet range.

The study is believed to have been sparked by the recent emergence of the General Electric/ Honda HF118 small turbofan, although the Brazilian manufacturer is revealing few details. Embraer executive vice-president industry Satoshi Yokota says: "We are doing a lot of studies in that area and talking to engine manufacturers." He continues: "It is a brand-new market and we are seeing if it makes sense."

Yokota points out, however, that the study does not indicate any potential return to the small corporate or business aircraft market once attempted in an earlier form with a joint venture with FAMA of Argentina on the CBA-123 project. "We will certainly not go into building a small personal or business jet," he adds, saying the emerging market is already crowded.

The Honda/GE project covers a family of potential engines in the 1,000-3,500lb-thrust (4.5-15.5kN) range, and has been identified with the Avocet Projet air-taxi concept, which may be developed in association with Israel Aircraft Industries. Although aimed at the emerging very light jet market, GE has said its primary motivation in becoming involved in the HF118 is for the potential air-taxi applications.

Embraer is not commenting on the identity of other potential engine makers involved in the studies, which are described as "very preliminary". Sources close to the concept evaluation express concern that the venture may not go beyond the study stage because of worries over the maintenance and support network that would be required.



Source: Flight International