Brazilian airframer's next jet will be pitched between Phenom 300 and Legacy 600

Embraer has confirmed that its next business jet will fill the gap between its Phenom 300 light jet and its super mid-size jet, the ERJ-135-based Legacy.

The new model - which the Brazilian manufacturer will market under either the Phenom or Legacy brand - will be "mid-light to mid-size", says Luis Carlos Affonso, Embraer executive vice-president for executive aviation.

He maintains that, although the "1,500nm [2,780km] gap" between the Phenom 300 and Legacy ranges is served by "a lot of aircraft" - including the smaller Bombardier Learjet 45 and 60, Cessna Citation XLS and Sovereign and Raytheon Hawkers - Embraer can launch a distinctive product in terms of range, price, cabin and performance.

"We believe we have a very good design," Affonso says. "A new aircraft there would have to be very good and different, because the market is crowded."

Embraer is ruling out for the time being a "Phenom 200" - a larger version of the Phenom 100 very light jet. "It is not a priority," says Affonso. "There is room for such an aircraft, but we are not developing that right now."

The manufacturer is also considering an Embraer 170-based variant of its Lineage 1000 large-cabin business jet, a development of the larger E-190 launched at last year's European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition in Geneva, and pitched largely at the Middle East and Russia.

"It has not been decided yet, but it would make sense," says Affonso. The fact that Embraer has already designed a corporate interior and belly fuel tanks for the Lineage means "development costs would be very small", he says.

Embraer originally planned to base the Lineage 1000 on the 170, before feedback from potential buyers at the 2005 Dubai air show indicated a larger cabin was required.

The manufacturer has taken "between five and 10" orders for the Lineage 1000, "the majority from the Middle East", says Affonso. "The aircraft is very successful in that market because of its characteristics," he says. "It can comfortably do Dubai to London. It competes with the [Airbus] ACJ and [Boeing] BBJ, but is much more affordable."

Embraer has had considerable success in corporate aviation since identifying the market as a core business in 2005 when it launched the Phenom range alongside its only product at the time, the Legacy. It delivered 28 Legacys last year, up from 20 in 2005, and has orders for 355 Phenoms.

Embraer is targeting "mid-2007" for the Phenom 100 first flight, with deliveries to start a year later. The Phenom 300 schedule is around 12 months behind. The company expects to deliver 15-20 Phenom 100s in 2008 and up to 150 of both models combined in 2009.

Source: Flight International