UPDATE 2-Embraer's new business jet rolls off Florida line in 2016

Fri Aug 7, 2015 7:14pm EDT
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(Adds reaction from Brazilian union, company comment)

By Brad Haynes

SAO PAULO Aug 7 (Reuters) - Brazilian planemaker Embraer SA said on Friday that the first Legacy 450 jet from a factory in Melbourne, Florida, will roll off the line in December 2016, as the company migrates business jet production there in a bet on the U.S. market.

Embraer's executive aviation chief, Marco Tulio Pellegrini, said in an interview that the new Legacy 450 would give the company more exposure to the North American market, which it expects to buy half of all new business jets in the next decade.

"The movement to Melbourne is a strategic decision to be in the world's biggest executive aviation market," Pellegrini said. Embraer's U.S. headquarters are in Melbourne, where it already has an assembly line for its entry-level private jets.

The decision sparked backlash from the metalworkers' union in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil, where Embraer is based, which said Pellegrini's comments to Reuters contradicted promises made by the company.

Embraer responded in a written statement that Legacy production at the Melbourne plant has been part of its public plans since 2013, adding that the balance of production between Florida and Brazil would depend on market conditions.

The union will hold a workers' assembly next week and intends to protest the ramp-up in U.S. production of the Legacy 450 and 500, union vice president Herbert Claros da Silva said in a telephone interview.

Union leaders have already come out strongly against the production of the Phenom 100/300 family of light jets at the Florida location. The union said in May it would launch a campaign to keep Phenom production in Brazil.   Continued...