Embraer Eyes Expansion

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Brazilian airframer Embraer once again made the trek to NBAA from Sao Paulo this year, bringing with it updates on its forthcoming Phenom 100 and 300 bizjets at the low end along with plans to plug the gap between them and the company's top-of-the-line Lineage 1000 and Legacy 600. During a pre-show press conference Monday and an unveiling Tuesday at its booth on the convention floor, Embraer reminded attendees its Phenom 100 very light jet is already flying, having amassed 55 flight hours in 39 flights as of this week, all of which the company says are geared toward achieving certification and first deliveries by mid-2008. Eventually, the Phenom 100 flight-test effort will include four jets and about 1,800 flight hours. A second, fully instrumented Phenom 100 will soon join its older sibling "to confirm flight qualities, stall procedures, high-speed characteristics, and general performance," according to the company. Meanwhile, the Phenom 300's assembly process has begun at Embraer's plant at Botucatu, Brazil, where its rear fuselage is being built. But the company reserved most of its focus -- along with most of its booth space -- to present concepts of two possible future products: its MSJ, or mid-size jet, along with its MLJ, or "midlight" jet.

"As the years go by, we will have more and more real aircraft at this show," Embraer President and CEO Frederico Fleury Curado told attendees Tuesday just prior to literally lifting the wraps from two fuselage mockups in his company's exhibit booth. Unveiled were mockups presenting the new cockpit for the Embraer Lineage 1000, a luxury bizjet based on the company's EMB-190 airliner, and a full-size cabin of the concept MSJ. The new cockpit, including a Honeywell Primus Epic avionics suite is comprised of five LCD multifunction screens, a cursor control device, autothrottle and weather radar with turbulence detection. The cockpit will link to other airplane components -- such as optional Wi-Fi and electronic flight bag and two standard-equipment GE CF34-10E7 engines of 18,500 pounds of thrust each -- through fly-by-wire and other high-tech. Meanwhile, the MSJ full-scale mockup is designed by Embraer as a conversation starter: Curado on Tuesday told attendees Embraer was very interested in potential customers' concerns about the proposed jets, including their strengths and weaknesses. On the strength side, Embraer said its MSJ will be designed to carry eight passengers 2,800 nm at Mach 0.80 and do it all with NBAA IFR reserves. The smaller MLJ will be able to carry four passengers 2,300 nm at long-range cruise settings with NBAA IFR reserves. Both jets will incorporate state-of-the-art avionics, a paperless flight deck and displays with advanced graphics capabilities. If Embraer sticks to its early plans for a full line of business jets, the real aircraft it brings to future NBAA shows could be hot commodities.