'Weak' market dents Embraer Executive Jets

Embraer's executive jets division recorded a 44% fall in revenues for the first quarter of 2017, due to a decline in shipments and a less favourable mix of aircraft types.

Revenues slid from $402 million in the first three months of 2015 to $226 million between January and March this year, the Brazilian airframer announced on 2 May.

It had already signalled a 35% year-on-year fall in deliveries for the quarter, down to 15 aircraft, the majority of which were light jets. That compares with 23 aircraft in the same period a year earlier, almost evenly split between light and large types.

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During a first-quarter earnings call, Embraer chief financial officer Jose Filippo said that the early part of the year was typically the “weakest". Shipment numbers were lower than expected, he adds, after the delivery of three aircraft slipped into April.

Chief executive Paulo Cesar Silva describes the business jet market as “weak” and “under pressure”, but remains confident in its 2017 guidance for between 70 to 80 light jets and 35 to 45 large jets.

Embraer recently announced a partnership with Uber to develop hybrid or all-electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) air taxis for short-range transport – a move he describes as a "good fit for us right now”.

“I think the market is very big,” he says, but cautions that technological and legal obstacles stand in its way. These include developing suitable high-energy batteries; securing certification for new VTOL aircraft; and getting aviation authority approval to allow these new types to operate within big cities.