Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer is about to enter a new phase. Beginning on April 23, the current vice-president for commercial aviation, Frederico Fleury Curado, will assume the presidency of the company, replacing MaurÀcio Botelho, who will preside the board of managers.
Botelho runs the company since its privatization, in 1995. Questioned about new markets that have the most potential, Curado named the Middle East first.
"Our perspective for the Arab market is one of growth and attention, we have very good relations in the region and we will maintain them," he stated yesterday, April 18, during a luncheon with journalists in the southeastern Brazilian city of São Paulo. It was during his tenure as head of the commercial aviation department that the company sold its first passenger airplanes to the Arab region.
"We already delivered 15 jet airplanes to Saudi Arabian Airlines, four to Royal Jordanian, one to Syrte Oil, From Libya, and we will deliver six other jets to EgyptAir." According to the executive, Embraer will seek to boost its sales to the Arab world in all three segments: commercial, executive, and defense aviation.
"Our contacts in the Middle East are very rewarding, and we will continue to treat the region with the same attention as usual," he claimed.
In the executive jet aircraft field, perspectives for the Arab market are also positive. "We have good news from the Arab market, as we are still strong there, the Lineage enjoys much success, so does the Legacy, and there is a new found interest in the Phenom," said Luís Carlos Affonso, vice-president for the executive aviation market at the company.
The first unit of the Lineage, a large executive jet modelled after the Embraer 190 commercial airplane, will be delivered to a customer in the Middle East in 2008. The Legacy, a medium-sized aircraft, was sold to buyers in Kuwait, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates.
As for the Phenom 100 and 300 models, which are small-sized aircraft, the company initially believed that there would not be a market for them in the Middle East, but according to Affonso, this is not what is taking place. The first units of Phenom models will also be delivered in 2008.
Maurício Botelho declared himself to be "very happy" to hand over the presidency to Curado, a career employee of the company; Botelho said he is leaving "established foundations" after him, and that his successor will complement his work by taking the company to another level.
When he assumed command of Embraer, the main challenge for Botelho was to turn a then state-owned company, aimed at catering to strategic interests in the Brazilian market, into an internationally competitive business.
"Success was achieved through a combination of strengths in industrial development, engineering, and new entrepreneurial competence," he stated.
Botelho said he never believed that when it belonged to the government, Embraer was a bad company, which became good after being privatized. "The mission of Embraer as a state-owned company, namely to develop technological capacity, was fully accomplished," he said.
"But success in the international market led the company to seek competitiveness," he claimed. From then on, according to Botelho, the company went on to achieve "unprecedented growth," and became the leader of the commercial aviation market in the 50- to 120-seat jet aircraft segment.
In the assessment of Curado, the greatest challenge now facing the company is increasing production capacity, since the firm order backlog reached a record high level of US$ 15 billion.
For the sake of illustration, in 2006 Embraer delivered 130 aircraft, whereas this year, up to 170 deliveries are forecasted, and 200 in 2008. For the small-sized Phenom aircraft alone, 400 orders have already been placed, and 120 to 150 units should be delivered per year beginning on 2009.
Another challenge is new product development, such as a new executive jet in a category in between Phenom and Legacy, which should be released this year or in 2008. "Our intention is to fill up the spaces in our product line, in order to have a complete portfolio," Affonso said.
To that extent, Embraer is hiring 3,500 to 4,000 employees this year, and will invest US$ 1 billion in 2007 and 2008. "Our firm order backlog reached US$ 15 billion and we must deliver. Given our success in sales in recent years, production capacity must be increased, without forgetting sales, which are what keeps us alive," Curado said.
Born in the southeastern Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, Curado is 45 years old, holds degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Aeronautics from the Brazilian Aeronautics Technological Institute (ITA), and a postgraduate degree in Foreign Trade from Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV). He has worked at Embraer since 1984 and held several positions with the company.
Anba – www.anba.com.br