Embraer has clinched a European fleet launch order for 50 Phenom 100 very light jets (VLJ) from Swiss start-up on-demand charter operator JetBird. The $140 million deal includes 50 options, with the choice of converting to the larger Phenom 300 light jet, and comes as the VLJ developers strengthen their customer support and sales networks in Europe in response to the burgeoning demand in the region.

Founder and chairman Domhnal Slattery says JetBird is scheduled to take delivery of its first aircraft in March 2009 and begin operations the following month. “We plan to start from our base in Zurich and within five years JetBird is expected to operate a fleet of 100 aircraft from up to five hubs,” he says, adding that the Phenoms are designed to achieve high utilisation and efficient turnaround times, which will contribute to lower operating costs and better value for customers.

Embraer is to strengthen its customer support facilities and build a sixth maintenance and service centre in central Europe. The Brazilian airframer says the network “needs to be enhanced to match the Phenom fleet and the Legacy 600 growth”. The company projects 24% of new business jet deliveries in Europe will be VLJs.

Spectrum Aero W445


Spectrum Aviation Europe, a Luxembourg-based subsidiary formed by light-jet developer Spectrum Aeronautical, says the region could account for around half of output based on current demand for the Spectrum 33, mainly from proposed air taxi operators. Spectrum plans to establish a series of distribution, service and training centres across Europe and is close to selecting the location of its first base.

“The response from the European market has been so strong we may consider pursuing a parallel US and European certification effort,” says Spectrum.

Eclipse Aviation says it will increase investment in the region this year to sell and support its five-seat Eclipse 500 VLJ, with European certification and first deliveries set for mid-2007. Luxembourg-based ETIRC Aviation is to distribute the Eclipse 500 in Russia, the CIS, Ukraine and Turkey.

Adam Aircraft says it is holding talks with “major service providers” to provide support for its A700 VLJ, which is earmarked for European certification and first deliveries in late 2007.

Source: Flight International