Executive AirShare, a regional fractional ownership company founded in Wichita, took delivery this week of the first Phenom 100 business jet assembled by Embraer in the United States.
Brazil-based Embraer recently opened an assembly facility in Melbourne, Fla. The jet, which arrived in Wichita on Tuesday night, was the first one to come off the assembly line there.
Executive AirShare, based in Kansas City, Mo., will add the jet to its fractional fleet. It will serve Wichita and Dallas.
The company now operates 13 Phenom 100s and five Phenom 300 light jets in its managed aircraft and fractional fleet. It also has 20 Phenom 100s and three Phenom 300s on order for delivery through 2015.
Embraer’s plant in Florida is good for Executive AirShare’s business, said Keith Plumb, the company’s president and chief operating officer.
“It makes our shareowners feel better to know they’re buying an airplane that is now assembled in the U.S. and has created U.S. jobs,” Plumb said.
While at the Florida plant, Plumb said he met former employees of Cessna Aircraft, Piper and NASA. One was from Manhattan and attended Kansas State University.
The Phenom 100’s wings and fuselage are shipped from Brazil. But about 75 percent of the components – items such as the wire harnesses, engines, windshields, landing gear and avionics – are from North America, he said.
“That cuts down on cost and time,” Plumb said.
By opening a plant in the U.S., Embraer has done to airplanes what BMW and Toyota did with automobiles, he said.
The Phenom 100 seats six, including pilots, while the Phenom 300 seats nine. The company was attracted to the Phenom aircraft because of their performance and low direct operating costs, he said.
Despite the economic downturn, Executive AirShare is growing. It now has more than 120 fractional owners, up from 95 in 2010 and 75 in 2009. That’s due largely to the popularity of the Phenom jets, company officials said.
The fractional owners are located in Wichita, Kansas City, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Fort Worth, Dallas and Buffalo, N.Y. Its subsidiary, Executive Flight Services, manages aircraft for owners and offers charter services.
In the downturn, fractional owners in national programs have downsized or evaluated their travel budgets wanting to save money, Plumb said. Those customers won’t turn to Southwest or AirTran for travel, he said. But they still want a lower-cost alternative.
“Since our company is based in the Midwest, our overall economics of the business are lower compared to other competitors based on the East Coast” Plumb said.
Besides the Phenom aircraft, Executive AirShare also serves the Central U.S. and Great Lakes region with Beechjet 400A and C90B airplanes. The company also will likely add King Air 350s to its fleet next year.
“That’s been a great program for us,” Plumb said. “It’s a great utility airplane.”