Rapid progress in past two months as fuselage and wings of first prototype come together and engines fit checked

Embraer will decide soon whether to increase the cost of its Phenom 100 very light jet, the first of a new line of smaller business aircraft the company hopes will make it a major player in the sector. The hike would be the second increase in less than two years for the four-passenger VLJ. Embraer launched the Phenom 100 in late 2005 for $2.75 million and raised the price to $2.85 million the following May.

"We may announce a price increase in the next couple of weeks," Embraer executive vice-president for executive aviation Luis Carlos Affonso told reporters in São José dos Campos on 13 April. The company has firm orders for "close to" 400 Phenom 100s and Phenom 300s, a $6.65 million six-to-seven seat passenger jet that shares the 100's cabin cross section and cockpit, but is otherwise all new. Embraer cut the first metal for the Phenom 300 in March and expects a first flight by mid-2008. Delivery slots for both aircraft are sold out through 2010, Affonso says.

The money news comes as Embraer makes rapid progress constructing the first aircraft over the past two months. The metal fuselage and wings for the first Phenom 100 prototype, constructed with production tooling, were mated at the company's main plant at São José dos Campos, the two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW617F engines were successfully fit checked to the fuselage and the landing gear deployed for the first time. Three fuselage sections for the second of three flying prototypes are about to be joined at the subassembly plant in Botucatu. Final assembly will ultimately take place at the company's new facility in Gavião Peixoto.

Yet to be installed by mid-April were the Phenom's composite horizontal and vertical stabilisers and control surfaces, Embraer's first foray into composite construction of flight critical structures. The Phenom 100 structure will be 20% composite by weight, not including the interior composites on the Phenom 300 will account for 18% of the structural weight, says Phenom programme manager Alexandre Figueiredo.

First flight of the Phenom 100 is scheduled for this quarter, with first deliveries a year later. Buyers will be asked to pay an additional $100,000 deposit after the milestone is achieved, bringing their total investment for each aircraft to $150,000. "We're not sure what the initial deposit will be for new customers after the first flight," Affonso adds. "Probably not as big as $150,000 though."

Phenom production 
© Embraer  

The first aircraft is being put together at the São José dos Campos facility


Source: Flight International