Embraer plans to increase production of its RJ-135/145 to 16 aircraft a month to keep pace with a record order backlog and continue to compete for new business. Meanwhile, it has finalised the selection of partners and suppliers for the new ERJ-170/190 regional jet.

The Brazilian company recently raised monthly ERJ-145/135 output to 10 jets. This will increase to12 by December. "There are several large campaigns going on that will affect the level of production-the decision to increase this has practically been made. How it will be implemented will be decided this month," says Embraer vice-president industrial Satoshi Yokota.

Sales of the 35/50-seat family aircraft total over 900, of which 140 have been delivered. About 50% of the backlog is comprised of options, which to be exercised will require a higher production rate. "We must be prepared to build that number," says Yokota, who adds that there are no available delivery positions before the end of 2000 apart from a small strategic reserve.

Plans awaiting approval call for the monthly production rate to grow to 14 aircraft within 15 months, increasing to 16 within 18 months. Embraer says it intends to maintain a single production line, but has the option to add a second line if necessary.

The company is moving more ERJ-135/145 subassembly work and possibly part or entire production of the planned new ALX trainer/light strike turboprop to its general aviation plant at Botucatu, 320km (200 miles) to the north west. Low-rate production of around 12 EMB-120 Brasilia turboprops a year continues, but Yokota concedes suppliers are finding it "more and more difficult" to sustain this.

Embraer also plans to build a new factory at the main Sao José Dos Campos site to produce the newly launched ERJ-170/190 jets at an initial rate of six a month from 2002. Offices have been expanded to house a 600-strong international design team. "We've made most of the supplier selections," says Yokota.

None of the partners have been identified other than engine supplier General Electric and avionics company Honeywell. The main work packages comprise auxiliary power unit, electrical, hydraulic, air management, flight controls, fuel management systems and landing gear.

Structure work has been divided into two centre fuselage sections, the aft fuselage and empennage, while the wing work will be shared by three suppliers.

Source: Flight International