Since opening its first office in China in 2000–in Beijing–Embraer has focused primarily on its commercial aircraft business, but at its chalet here this week and on the static display at ABACE 2015, the Brazilian airframer is showcasing the growing presence of its Embraer Executive Jets in the People’s Republic.
Last June saw the delivery of the first Legacy 650 produced by the Harbin Embraer Aircraft Industry Co. (HEIC), Embraer’s joint venture with Harbin Aircraft Industry (Group) Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).
Prior to signing the agreement in 2012 to build the Legacy 600/650 in China, HEIC, formed in 2003, had produced only civilian airliners. (The Legacy 650 was purchased by ICBC Financial Leasing.) HEIC’s 650 was the first large business jet assembled in China by a joint venture company, and “an important milestone in Brazil-Sino cooperation in business aircraft manufacturing,” an Embraer spokesperson said. Indeed, in July 2014, President Xi Jinping confirmed orders for 25 of the Chinese-built 650s.
A longer range version (3,900 nm) of the Legacy 600, the 14-passenger 650 features three cabin zones and upgraded powerplants in the two Rolls-Royce AE3007-A2 engines, and is certified to operate at some of the world’s highest airports, including China’s Shangri-la at 10,761 feet.
HEIC is now also offering Chinese customers the Tailored Elegance Lineage 1000E, Embraer’s flagship long-range business jet with an interior design inspired by Chinese influences. The cabin is designed to integrate the richness of Chinese culture with modern science and technology, creating an onboard environment compatible with the tasteful, refined aesthetic of today’s sophisticated Chinese travelers, the company said.
Embraer manufactures three families of business jets: The Phenom (100E/300), its light jet line; the Legacy (450/500/600/650) its medium- to large-cabin class; and the Lineage (1000E) executive airliner. Embraer, citing data showing that more than two thirds (67 percent) of the 418 business jets in China (including Hong Kong and Macau) are large and ultra-large executive jets, concluded, “Embraer’s Legacy 650 large and Lineage 1000E ultra-large jets are highly appreciated by the Chinese customers.” If that seems something of a leap of logic, the company noted, “the world famous movie star and philanthropist Jackie Chan [was] the first customer of our Legacy 650 in China.”
Nonetheless, the company sees the market for its smaller business jets growing. “We do hold the confidence that, as the market gets more mature, the Chinese customers might shift to the smaller jets,” the spokesperson said. “Thus, we expect Embraer’s midsize executive jet Legacy 500 will also be appreciated by the market.” In fact, Chan will also be the country’s first customer for the new Legacy 500, with delivery expected later this year. Seating up to 12 passengers, the clean-sheet 500 entered service in late 2014, and is the first midsize jet with full fly-by-wire technology.
With Embraer’s roots in commercial aircraft production, Embraer executive jets have a reputation for ruggedness and reliability. But business aircraft operators still need a robust support network, and in 2010 Embraer created a wholly owned Chinese subsidiary, Embraer China Aircraft Technical Services, to provide spare parts, logistical support, and consulting services to customers in China.
In 2011, the company opened its first authorized service center for executive jets in the Greater China region, and today its regional service network includes Hong Kong-based Metrojet and Tianjin-based ExecuJet Haite Aviation Services China. These facilities are authorized to provide line and base maintenance services for the Legacy 600/650 and Lineage 1000/l000E. Embraer has appointed STAECO (Beijing) and Shanghai-based China Eastern Executive Air as AOG (aircraft on ground) service providers, charged with returning grounded aircraft to the skies expeditiously. The company also expects to establish the first authorized service centers for the Phenom 300 and Legacy 500 in China by the middle of this year.
Despite the strides in its business aviation profile in China, Embraer continues to push its commercial aircraft sales, having sold more than five times more airliners than business jets in the region (181 airliners). The company sees commercial sales as “a value-added strength as Embraer moves headlong into business aviation in China,” the spokesperson said, “offering its executive jet customers the same outstanding support and service standards we provide our airline customers, an advantage no other executive jets OEM can claim.”
Globally Embraer delivered 24 large executive jets and 92 light jets last year, and it expects to deliver 35 to 40 large jets and 80 to 90 light jets in 2015.