Embraer's VLJ Contender

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There's been talk for a while now that more of the mainstream aircraft manufacturers might follow Cessna's lead and jump into the very light jet (VLJ) market. Embraer, of Brazil, confirmed those rumors last week, with an official announcement that it plans to introduce a new VLJ with six to eight seats, and a new light jet that will carry eight or nine. The investment in the new jets will total $235 million, the company said. The jets will be "best-in-class," according to Embraer, featuring "premium comfort, outstanding performance and low operating cost." Both jets will be designed for single-pilot operation. Better start saving now, though -- prices start at $2.75 million. The VLJ will be powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada's PW617F engine, with 1,615 pounds of thrust. Its range will be up to 1,160 nautical miles and it will have a maximum operating speed of Mach 0.7. It will be designed for a short takeoff distance and is capable of flying at 41,000 feet. The VLJ is expected to enter service in mid-2008, Embraer said. The light jet, with up to nine seats, will be powered by P&WC's PW535E engine, with 3,200 pounds of thrust. It's expected to enter service in mid-2009 and be priced at $6.65 million. Embraer said it estimates demand for approximately 3,000 very light and light jets over the next decade, not counting the air-taxi market. (Eclipse says it currently has more than 2,000 orders for its 500.)