It was just five years ago that Embraer
announced the decision to develop a whole new line of business jets. The
2005 announcement didn't happen here at Oshkosh, but that summer the
company was here with a big exhibit.
That was unusual for any jet maker.
At first Embraer brought models of its
Phenom 100, the first from-scratch business-jet design in the company's
plans. Read more
But to emphasize its heritage it also
displayed a full-size re-creation of the 14-bis heavier-than-air flying
machine built in 1906 by Alberto Santos-Dumont.
The Brazilian aviation pioneer had been
flying powered lighter-than-air machines around Paris for several years
before the Wright brothers' first flight in 1903. One-hundred-and-two
years later, his exotic airplane, with its huge box-like control surface
extending far ahead of the airplane, attracted big crowds here at
Oshkosh and made it clear to all the long aviation history of Brazil.
In a couple of years the Phenom 100 was
progressing on schedule, and Embraer planned to make the first flight
The Phenom was thousands of miles away in
Brazil, but Embraer erected huge video displays on AeroShell Square so
that people here could see the Phenom first flight in real time as it
That was certainly a first for any
In the years that followed Embraer was
able to bring actual jets to Oshkosh, and this year both the Phenom 100
and the much larger Phenom 300 are on display. Embraer has already
delivered more than 120 Phenoms and has retained a solid backlog of
Young but mature…and scrappy
Embraer, which is quite a new company as airplane manufacturers go,
had its founding just more than 40 years ago to build a regional
Embraer overcame all of the obstacles that any new airplane maker faces
to move on from turboprops to regional jets.
And now it competes globally against the
big guys with its 170 and 190 E-jet series of airliners. The E-jets fly
for many of the major U.S. carriers, and they are quickly becoming a
staple for airlines in the developing world.
It was a bold step for Embraer to jump
into the business-jet segment where competition is tough and airframe
makers are well-established.
But it has worked.
In the five years since Embraer announced
its plans for a series of business jets, those airplanes have grown to
account for 22 percent of total revenue.
And there is much more to come from
Embraer with the first metal cut for the prototype of the Legacy 500, a
jet that pushes the midsize envelope both in terms of cabin size and
The Legacy 500 cabin has a flat floor
with 6 feet of standup headroom, and its IFR range is 3,000 nautical
miles. It will be certified for up to 12 passengers.
The shorter-range Legacy 450 will be able
to fly 2,300 nautical and carry as many as nine passengers in similar
comfort since the cabin cross section is the same.
In addition to a low-drag airframe that
results from the latest design techniques, the efficiency of the Legacy
450/500 comes from use of the Honeywell HTF7500E that promises the
lowest fuel burn, longest maintenance intervals, and lowest emissions in
And both airplanes will have fly-by-wire
control systems that are derived from the systems in the airline E-jets.
Embraer isn't talking about how many
millions it is investing in the development of its line of business
jets-and the many service centers it will take to support the jets.
But is has to be enormous.
What the company understood from the
beginning is the importance of taking the stage at Oshkosh.
Every summer we have been able to see the
rapid progress Embraer is making as all of aviation gathers here. We
have been able to see Embraer's jets be born and grow right here, and it
has been exciting to watch.