Feb. 21 marked the opening of Sao Paulo, Brazil-based aircraft manufacturer Embraer’s first U.S. manufacturing facility, at Melbourne International Airport in Melbourne, Fla. Built in response to the success of its “entry level” Phenom 100 and Phenom 300 business jets, the 150,000-ft2 (46,452m2) plant will be the site for final assembly of the two aircraft, which combine lightweight aluminum-alloy and composite structures. The latter include flame-resistant Cetex fiber-reinforced polyetherimide (PEI) vertical and horizontal tailplane ribs, provided by TenCate Advanced Composites BV (Nijverdal, The Netherlands), and radomes built with materials from Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics (Wayne, N.J.). Composite subassemblies are built, in part, by Daher Aerospace Ltd. (Wissous, France), using automated tape laying equipment from MTorres Disenos Industriales SA (Torres de Elorz, Spain).
Embraer’s partners in the $50 million project include the State of Florida, the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast, Melbourne International Airport, Enterprise Florida and the City of Melbourne. Production activities began in the site’s 80,000-ft2/7,432m2 assembly hangar in June, and the first Phenom 100 aircraft will roll out at the end of this year, says the company. At full capacity, the company expects to produce as many as eight Phenom jets per month.
The opening was the latest development in the Brazilian company’s 30-year presence in the U.S., which has included business offices and Embraer Aircraft Maintenance Services (EAMS) facilities in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Mesa, Ariz.; and Bradley, Conn. Florida Governor Rick Scott expressed his pleasure at the opening and noted that 200 high-wage jobs will be generated.
Meanwhile, Embraer Defesa e Segurança S.A., an Embraer subsidiary, signed a strategic agreement in April with unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) producer Elbit Systems Ltd.’s (Haifa, Israel) Brazilian subsidiary, AEL Sistemas S.A., to evaluate joint exploration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The participants anticipate creation of a jointly owned company with majority participation by Embraer Defesa e Segurança to function in the UAS market segment.
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The project’s goal is to reduce product development and certification timelines by 30 percent for composite aircraft.