If there's one plane that stands out among all that Embraer SA (NYSE:ERJ) has to offer, it would be the flagship executive jet, Lineage 1000. The company announced this ultralarge executive aircraft in 2006, and deliveries started in 2009. The plane epitomized the value proposition that Embraer is known for and offered much more in terms of luxury, amenities, and technology than the price the jet commanded. However, it hasn't been as popular as one would expect. To energize sales, Embraer has introduced the more advanced Lineage 1000E, which the company calls "an epitome of luxury." Here's more on the Lineage 1000, its features, problems, and what the company is trying to achieve with the new model.
The inception of Lineage 1000
The Lineage 1000 marked Embraer's foray into the business jet market. The company announced the jet in 2006 at a time when demand for private jets was booming and Embraer saw an opportunity. It proposed to build the jet on the base of the very popular E-190, and to date, it's Embraer's only business jet to have the basic structure common to a regional commercial jet. The Brazilian jet maker used the same cabin space of the E-190 that accommodated 114 passengers to seat just 19 people in the Lineage 1000.
The cabin is huge at 4,085 cubic-feet, almost double what you'd get on other aircraft with similar range. The aircraft touts a luxurious interior that's divided into five sections and comes with an optional bedroom to ease passengers during long-distance travel. The jet also offers ample luggage space of 615 cubic feet. But a major difference between E-190 and Lineage 1000 is the range of the jets -- the latter has almost twice the range because of the extra fuel tanks placed in the cargo area. The supersized business jet offers maximum range of 4,200 nautical miles, maximum operating speed of Mach 0.82, can cruise along smoothly at an altitude of 41,000 feet, and sports Honeywell Primus Epic avionics.
Despite its value proposition, Embraer has dispatched just 21 Lineage 1000s (according to GAMA) since the first delivery in 2009. This could be a little baffling because the market for large jets has held up through the recession.
Gulfstream is ramping up production of its G650 large jet and has a four-year waitlist on the model. In 2013, Gulfstream sold 121 large jets and another 59 in the first half of 2014. Bombardier is also making more shipments of its large cabin Global series aircraft. In 2013, it delivered 62 large Global jets and 36 in the first six months of 2014. In comparison, Lineage 1000's tally stands at four in 2013 and two through the first two quarters of 2014.
In the August edition of the industry publication Business Jet Traveler, Mark Huber cites some interesting reasons for the lukewarm sales of Lineage 1000. Huber is a private pilot and has flown over 50 aircraft models. He says that Lineage 1000 did not get adequate attention when it was launched because customers felt the discounted price of $40.5 million did not do justice to what the plane had to offer. Embraer had also promised deliveries from 2008, and to make that happen, the company had to sub-contract parts of the manufacturing process. This led to subsequent fit and functionality problems and Embraer had to eventually stop outsourcing.
The jet was originally aimed to compete with Boeing and Airbus' single-aisle bizliners as well as the conventional large business jets from the likes of Gulfstream and Bombardier. But it lagged the speed and range of Bombardier's Global series and Gulfstream's G450, G550, G650 planes. At the same time, its cabin space, though huge by conventional business jet standards, was about three-quarters of Boeing's and Airbus'.
What lies ahead for the jet?
According to Honeywell International, by 2023, 9,250 new business jets will be delivered, and large jets will make up 55% of these shipments. To capitalize on this demand, Embraer launched a more advanced version of the Lineage 1000 jet called Lineage 1000E in October 2013. The new model addresses some of the limitations of the original version, such as offering a greater range of 4,600 nm, and higher long-range cruise speed of 472 knots compared to the earlier model.
Embraer is also designing an innovative Lineage 1000E Skyacht One model. It's joined hands with Los Angeles-based SottoStudios to give a complete makeover to Lineage 1000. Priced at $83 million, the Lineage 1000E Skyacht One is going to be one of the most expensive private jets out there. At this price, it's going to overshadow even the G650/ER, which is hailed as the gold standard of the large business jet segment.
The new Lineage 1000E is an attractive proposition for billionaires looking for a state-of-the art luxury jet. With demand for large cabin jets on the rise, the timing is perfect for the launch of the new model. If the plane is able to carve a niche for itself, it could pit Embraer against bigger peers like Gulfstream and Bombardier.
ICRA Online and Eshna Basu have no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Embraer-Empresa Brasileira. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.