Aircraft would be pitched against Bombardier Global 5000 and Dassault Falcon 900EX

Embraer is "taking seriously" the launch of a business jet version of its 70-seat 170 regional airliner, and is undertaking a market study to determine the demand for a long- range, large-cabin business jet.

The Brazilian manufacturer promoted such an aircraft, the ECJ-170, more than three years ago, but decided to concentrate on the baseline regional jet.

Embraer is hoping to emulate the success of the Legacy, an ERJ-135 regional jet variant and Embraer's first foray into the business jet market.

Sam Hill, Embraer chief executive for corporate jets, says: "We are undertaking a bottom-up analysis, asking the market what it is looking for in a large cabin business jet and what is not available at the moment."

Hill says there is a "demand for something different. Some existing long-range aircraft manufacturers are either suffering poor sales or having their aircraft returned due to low utilisation." Hill adds that Fairchild Dornier's demise has left a gap in the market previously filled by the Envoy 7, the business aircraft variant of the 728. "A number of operators, including Flight Options [with a 25-aircraft order] are now scrambling to find a substitute for the Envoy 7," he says.

Embraer is mulling two options - a standard 170 with a corporate interior or a dedicated business jet variant, as is the Legacy. The latter, he admits, will involve costly modifications. "To change the character of the aircraft we will have to alter the water and electrical systems, add fuel tanks to extend the aircraft's range and perform a number of aerodynamic improvements," says Hill.

Key considerations for a corporate 170, Hill adds, are a large cabin, long range with the ability to fly up to 9h, high reliability and low operating costs. The aircraft would be pitched against super large business jets such as the Dassault Falcon 900EX and the Bombardier Global 5000, he says.

Any decision to proceed could be taken afterthe170's certification, scheduled for the second quarter of next year. Development of a dedicated corporate jet is expected to take around two years.

Meanwhile, delivery of the first US registered Legacy to fixed-based operator and charter company Swift Aviation is expected this month.


Source: Flight International