Embraer has broken ground on a project that will add two production lines to its Melbourne, Florida, facility and nearly triple its business jet manufacturing footprint there.

The Brazilian company already builds its Phenom 100 entry level and Phenom 300 light business jets at the US plant, of which it has produced 80 aircraft in the past three years. Plans are to add production lines for both the super light Legacy 450 and midsize Legacy 500. The first Legacy is scheduled to roll off the line in the second half of 2016, says Marco Tulio Pellegrini, president and CEO of Embraer Executive Jets.

The existing 80,000ft2 (7,430m2) square-foot facility performs assembly of Phenoms with components fabricated in Brazil and shipped to the United States. It employs 200 who turn out four jets per month. The facility brings in annual revenue of around $300 million. The 93rd US-built Phenom was on the production line in September. Tulio said the 100th would roll off by the end of the year.

Phil Krull, chief operating officer of Embraer Executive Jets, tells Flightglobal the 120,000ft2 expansion to house the Legacy production lines will employ another 600 hundred workers. The existing facility will become a logistics staging area for parts in support of the four production lines. The new production facility will be built at a right-angle to the existing building and the adjoining wall will be knocked out when completed, so as not to upset Phenom production, Krull says.

Legacy manufacturing will also introduce fuselage joining and fabrication of some parts, Krull says.

“This will be an expansion of our industrial operation, but we’re actually going back to a more basic production process,” Krull said on 9 October during a pre-groundbreaking press conference. “We will be joining fuselage sections, which also adds complexity to the process”, which requires the addition of skilled laborers and precision equipment, he says.

Other elements of the expansion are a new painting facility, flight preparation area and delivery hangar that can accept Legacy-size aircraft. The company recently moved into a new 70,000ft2 engineering and customer service building with 80 employees. The company hopes to eventually hire 200 people to work in the building, which houses engineering and design operations from conceptual drawing to design validation.

Source: FlightGlobal.com