“Legacy”, the name that marked Embraer’s debut in the business aviation sector has come to an end. The Legacy 650 business jet had its last unit delivered about 10 days ago, ending a two-decade career.
It was thanks to the transformation of the regional aircraft ERJ-135 that Embraer debuted in the business jet segment in 2002. Until then, the Brazilian planemaker had only flirted with this type of customer when launching the turboprop EMB-121 Xingu, which had few units produced.
In the opposite direction of the competitor Bombardier, which transformed the Challenger business jet into a commercial aircraft, Embraer saw in the ERJ regional jet the opportunity to participate in a new segment. With good internal space, the Legacy needed extra tanks to offer a range more consistent with its proposal. With a capacity for up to 13 passengers, the jet could fly for up to 6,300 km.
In 2009, Embraer decided to launch an improved version, the Legacy 650, which extended its range to more than 7,200 km thanks to new fuel tanks. About 288 aircraft were produced, concluded with the delivery of the last jet to Air Hamburg, a German charter company and the largest operator of the model.
Same name, different plane
The good sales performance of the Legacy encouraged Embraer to expand its line of executive jets. In 2008, the company launched the Legacy 450 and 500 models, but, despite the same name, they were new planes designed from the beginning for the business aviation market. The 500 variant, for up to 12 passengers, entered service in 2014 while the smaller Legacy 450 (up to 9 occupants) was delivered the following year.
Shortly thereafter, however, Embraer launched the Praetor 500 and 600 models that were actually enhanced versions of the two Legacy. The name change was a kind of route correction since internally the company recognized that these planes had nothing to do with the first Legacy.
The similarity between these planes is so great that this week, airframer completed the first conversion of a Legacy 450 to the Praetor 500 standard. The service is offered at maintenance centers authorized by Embraer and consists of replacing parts of the fuel system, updates to avionics, reinforcement of the wing structure to support more weight and the addition of Praetor swept winglets. The same conversion, however, cannot be done on the Legacy 500 as more extensive modifications would be needed to transform it into a Praetor 600.
Despite the end of production, the Embraer jet will justify its name for many years in the company’s executive aviation division.