Embraer is planning to market corporate versions of the new ERJ-170 regional jet and smaller ERJ-135 in a direct counter to the increasingly successful Fairchild Envoy 3 and 7 business aircraft. The latter has been bolstered by a $760 million order for 25 Envoy 7s from Flight Options (Flight International, 16-22 June).

Brazilian manufacturer Embraer is assembling a corporate jet business plan, which it hopes to complete by the end of this year. "We're assessing the market and development costs. My impression is the aircraft would be aimed mainly at the corporate shuttle business and fractional ownership schemes which are promising," says Frederico Curado, Embraer commercial vice-president.

Development of the larger corporate aircraft would be based on the long range (LR) version of the 70-seat ERJ-170, which has an increased maximum take-off weight of 35,990kg (79,275lb). The aircraft would be fitted with extra fuel tanks in the baggage hold to extend the range beyond the LR's projected 4,075km (2,200nm).

"This is a fairly natural evolution of the ERJ-170-the aircraft could go to 4,000nm plus easily," says ERJ-170/190 programme director Luis Carlos Affonso. A study is also under way to extend the range of the ER-135LR to 4,400km for corporate users by adding fuel to the wing box, similar to the modification to the airborne early warning version of the ERJ-145, and installing an auxiliary tank inside the cabin.

Embraer says it would not fit the aircraft out for corporate users at its Sïo José Dos Campos plant but instead appoint a third party finishing centre. It adds that the large order backlog for ERJ-135/145 regional jets means it does not have the spare production capacity to begin building either corporate jet before at least 2001.

Meanwhile, Fairchild is planning to deliver its first Envoy 7 in December 2002 to an unidentified customer. Cleveland, Ohio-based fractional operator Flight Options will take its first three jets by the end of 2000 and then at five a year. "We have an order backlog for 28 aircraft and the marketing campaign is only just getting under way. We expect to have a backlog of over 100 aircraft by the time the first is delivered," says company chairman Carl Alberts.

The Envoy 7 will be based on the extended range version of the 728JET with an extra 4,500kg (9,900lb) of fuel housed in modular underfloor tanks. This will give the aircraft a range of 7,680km with 12 passengers. Fairchild plans to deliver the first three Envoy 3 versions of the 328JET at the end of the year and is studying a corporate shuttle version of the larger 428JET.

Source: Flight International