Aircraft: Building on a Legacy
G5 executive had a problem. The Swiss charter firm, which flies clients aboard long-range business jets from one continent to another, needed a plane for shorter trips. Too often, G5 Executive had to ferry the empty big jets back from the Far East or North America to shuttle clients who had come to expect the space and elegance of a larger Gulfstream on short hops from one European city to another. The company’s solution was to acquire an Embraer Legacy. The Brazilian-built Legacy, which was introduced two years ago, is a modified ERJ-135 regional jet, an aircraft used for commercial travel.
Until recently, Embraer had offered two models of the Legacy: the Executive (13 to 19 seats), which the charter company added to its fleet, and the Shuttle (30 to 37 seats). The newest model, also named Executive, will feature greater range and a completely revamped interior. The new $21 million Legacy Executive will be powered by Rolls-Royce AE 3007 engines that give the plane a range of more than 3,700 miles while carrying eight passengers. The standard remodeled interior, which can be reconfigured to the owner’s specifications, will feature a three-compartment design—a four-seat area next to the galley, a conference room that doubles as a dining room, and a bedroom with a three-seat divan that unfolds to become a bed—that can accommodate as many as 13 passengers. The cabin will also include a lavatory, of course, and a walk-in baggage compartment, and will boast two DVD players, two LCD screens, and an Iridium satellite telephone.
Despite the considerable attributes of the previous-generation Legacy, a number of G5 Executive’s charter passengers have been reluctant to fly aboard the Brazilian jet. “When you have something new, you have to try it first,” says Urs Gisel, G5 Executive’s chief Legacy pilot. “Customers are a little bit suspicious at first, because Embraer is not well known.”
Also, the Legacy’s performance trails that of other jets such as the Gulfstream G200, which can complete a Los Angeles-to-New York run 10 to 20 minutes faster than the Embraer. When flown intercontinentally, the Legacy may require a fuel stop traveling westbound across the Atlantic if headwinds are strong. However, Embraer executives are quick to note that the interior of the Legacy trumps those of similar-sized jets. The Legacy’s cabin is 1,410 cu ft compared with the G200’s 868 cu ft. In fact, the Legacy’s cabin is nearly as large as the $34 million Gulfstream G400’s, which is 1,525 cu ft. “Once people have been on the aircraft, their attitude changes,” Gisel says. “We have a nice case where a customer wanted to fly with another aircraft, but now he flies only Legacy.”