Even as other manufacturers were retrenching because of the global recession started in 2008, Embraer has been investing worldwide bringing to fruition its goal to take its place in the pantheon of global aviation and aerospace companies.
That, in itself, is impressive, but its recent investments of more than $300 million in the U.S., Portugal, and China have made it an industrial powerhouse and nowhere is that more evident than in Melbourne, FL. Its efforts speak volumes about the enduring importance of the North American market and Florida’s role in global trade.
“We chose Melbourne for many reasons,” said Ernie Edwards, President of Embraer Executive Jets. “First was our continuing desire to be closer to customers as the development of our worldwide marketing and customer service infrastructure attests. In addition, Melbourne was ideally located near three major ports and offers employees and visitors a great, coastal quality of life. We also chose Melbourne because of the innate production and engineering talent on the Space Coast of Florida. Finally, the partnerships we have forged with economic development authorities in Florida and the Space Coast, has allowed us to expand and prosper.”
And that expansion has grown in just four years from one to three facilities at Melbourne representing an overall investment of nearly $90 million for the city. Embraer has been in Florida since 1979 when it created Embraer Aircraft Holding Inc, which has since grown to about 1,200 employees across the United States and is widely recognized as being instrumental in building the regional airline industry as we know it today. It is, in fact, the world’s third largest manufacturer of commercial aircraft.
In 2008, Embraer announced it would build its first U.S. assembly center and locate the global headquarters of Embraer Executive Jets in Melbourne. It broke ground on its 150,000-square-foot project that December launching a $50 million investment in the area. The plan called for an 80,000-square-foot assembly center and paint facility for its small executive jets—the entry-level Phenom 100 and, later, the light Phenom 300, which joined the production line in September. Upon receiving its production certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration last summer, the facility became the first in Florida able to produce jet aircraft.
The effort included a 58,000-square-foot Customer Center, the epicenter of its global executive jet activities which not only bring customers from around the world to this facility but it will ultimately be able to produce and deliver eight aircraft per month. The Customer Center is also the principal design facility for executive jet customers and, last summer, the company the company dedicated design suites for the Phenom, Legacy, and Lineage aircraft that are part of Embraer Executive Jets’ extensive portfolio.
Indeed, Embraer Executive Jets is the only business aviation manufacturer that offers a complete family of executive jets from the entry-level Phenom 100, the light Phenom 300, the super-midsize Legacy 600, the large Legacy 650 and the ultra-large Lineage 1000. Its midsize Legacy 500 jet recently made its maiden flight and its mid-light Legacy 450 is expected to enter service in 2015. These break-through aircraft constitute disruptive technology for executive jets and continue Embraer Executive Jets tradition of raising the bar for innovations in executive jets.
At Melbourne, Embraer promised it would create 200 jobs with the two new facilities and is now well over that 200-job mark. The assembly and paint buildings opened in February 2011 and the customer center in December 2011 when the first made-in-the-USA Phenom 100 flew for the first time. A year later, in December 2012, the first made-in-the-USA Phenom 300 took to the air for the first time marking yet another milestone for Embraer and Florida.
In November, it broke ground on its third project hard by Melbourne International Airport, the 67,000-square-foot Embraer Engineering and Technology Center USA (EETC USA), the first such facility for the company outside of Brazil. The EETC represents a $26 million investment by Embraer. The ground breaking, attended by Governor Rick Scott and other local and state officials including representatives from Senator Bill Nels