The Embraer Praetor 500 and Praetor 600 - new standard-bearers after the Boeing sale
Almost a year ago, in October 2018 at the NBAA-BACE in Orlando, Embraer took most of the business aviation community by surprise and launched two new business jets, the Praetor 500 and the Praetor 600. Derived from the Roman word for a preeminent soldier, the unusual name indicates a bit the strategy of the Brazilian manufacturer. After selling the majority of its commercial jet division to Boeing, Embraer will now focus on defense and business jets, with the Praetor models being the standard-bearers of the upcoming generation. Since the Praetor 600 has already received certification from the three main regulatory authorities and seen the first delivery, let us have a more detailed look into those two aircraft.
Improved Legacy 450/500 or completely new aircraft?
The Praetor models come to market exactly ten years after the launch of the mid-size jets Legacy 450 and Legacy 500. However, this time, Embraer took much less time between announcement and first certification. The Praetors are mostly improved versions of the successful Legacy models. The introduction of the Praetor does not mean the end of production for the Legacy 450/500, as both aircraft will still be offered to clients not needing the improvements offered on by the new Praetor 500/600 models.
What are the differences between the Legacy 450/500 and the Praetor 500/600? So how do the Praetors differ from each other?
Both questions are interlinked, as the Praetor is the successor of the Legacy 450 and the Praetor 600 the one of the Legacy 500. To answer the second question is easy; practically, the difference between Praetor 500 and 600 is in the range and length of the aircraft. With approximately 15% larger tanks, the 600 can fly 3900nm, while the 500 reaches 3250nm (both numbers assuming four pax, NBAA IRF, and LRC). Both aircraft use the same wings, with one interesting detail: the improved winglets are bolted on and therefore easy (and cheaper) to replace if damage occurs. FBOs and hangar keepers should love that one!
The 600 is the longer aircraft and can carry up to 3 pax more than the 500, depending on the configuration. Just like the predecessors, the Praetors come with fly-by-wire controls and focus on cockpit automation, taking much work from the pilot. Compared to the Legacy, the Praetors offer more range (the smaller Praetor offers now as much range as the larger Legacy 500), thanks to the improved engine from Honeywell, the HTF7500E power unit, and the redesigned fuel tanks. In the end, the MTOW of the Praetor 600, for example, is around 10% higher than that of the Legacy 500.
The interior has also newly designed. Called “Bossa Nova,” after the famous Brazilian type of slow, Jazz music, the Praetors come with a nicely designed Brazilian touch. They also feature Ka-band high-speed internet and a stand-up cabin height of 1,83m.
Which aircraft are the Praetors competitors?
Embraer classifies the 500 as a mid-size jet and the 600 as a super mid-size. The super mid-size category has become more and more popular in the last couple of years, with the Bombardier Challenger 350 leading the market in sales. Other super mid-size jets are the Gulfstream G280, the new Cessna Longitude (first delivery expected at the end of 2019) and the Dassault Falcon 2000 (the oldest of the four mentioned). The 600 is well-positioned in this market, offering the lowest list price while having the longest range. Embraer hopes this will be a pretty compelling argument for the Embraer, which has a slightly less wide cabin and lower cruise speed, especially compared to the Gulfstream G280.
For the Praetor 500, there is less competition. Since Embraer will continue to sell the Legacy 450/500 models, it could very well become a competitor to its sister models. The Cessna Sovereign and the Cessna Latitude offer similar range and size at an, again, slightly higher price tag. Another advantage for the Embraer is the option for clients who already ordered the Legacy; for only half a million USD, clients can upgrade to the newer Praetor model.
What does the Praetor models mean for Embraer?
The introduction of the Praetor models cannot be analyzed without looking at the general situation of Embraer. After the sale of the commercial jet program CS-Series of Bombardier to Airbus, Boeing replied by acquiring an 80% stake in the commercial jet program of Embraer, which means that both manufacturers and direct competitors, Embraer and Bombardier, will be focussing more resources on their respective executive jet programs. As the private jet market seems to slower further down, manufacturers will have to respond with more aggressive sales and model differentiation to stand a chance. Embraer depends on the success of the Praetors to solidify its position in the business jet market and should focus on those two models for the mid-size market.