Concurrently, on Nov. 30, Miami-based H.I.G. Capital finalized its acquisition of Cleveland-based Flight Options, LLC from the Raytheon Co. and announced a firm order for 100 Phenom 300 light jets from Embraer, a Brazilian aerospace conglomerate. For an undisclosed sum, the purchase of Flight Options from Raytheon was first announced in October. The Phenom order sends an unmistakable signal that H.I.G., a global private equity firm, supports the growth of Flight Options, the world´s second largest dedicated private jet fleet and fractional provider.
The order for Phenom 300s consists of 100 aircraft to be delivered over the next decade with options for another 50 aircraft; the first delivery is scheduled to occur in late 2009. The relationship between Embraer and Flight Options dates back to 2003, with the acquisition of its first Legacy 600; currently, the company operates a fleet of eight Legacy 600s.
Embraer said the Phenom order is the company´s largest executive jet order, worth $ 746 million, based on 2007 list price. The total order could reach $ 1.12 billion, if all options are exercised. An additional agreement for a maintenance and support program is valued at more than $ 200 million. Flight Options CEO S. Michael Scheeringa, said, "Embraer´s reputation for innovation and best-in-class products is evident in every aspect of the Phenom 300. With an outstanding combination of performance, cabin comfort and baggage capacity, the Phenom 300 will become the mainstay of Flight Options´ fleet."
At present, the company has a fleet of more than 140 aircraft consisting of Hawker 400XPs and 850XPs, Citation Xs and Embraer Legacy 600s; however, the 400XPs will be phased out. Dennis E. Baker, director of corporate communications of Flight Options told CharterX Industry Headline News that the company would transition its fractional light jet from the 400XPs to the Phenom 300s, starting in 2010. "This transition is estimated to take seven years to complete. I do not have specific numbers of retiring aircraft year by year, he said."
Although the deal closed with H.I.G., will everything still run smoothly with Flight Options´ existing management? Baker says H.I.G.´s view of the industry matches that of Flight Options´ "go forward plan," for both short-term and long-term commitments. "There are no management or operational changes expected as a result of the transaction; we expect continuity with the business plan," he said.
Powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada´s PW535E engines, the Phenom 300 promises unmatched amenities and low operating costs. The aircraft´s range has 1,800 nautical miles with four passengers; it has a maximum operating speed of Mach 0.78, is designed for short field take off performance and is capable of flying at 45,000 feet.
Doug Berman, a managing director at H.I.G., said, "Our intention is for Flight Options to be the most innovative, forward-looking and professional company in private aviation."
Both Flight Options and Embraer agree that the airplane was specifically engineered for high utilization and reliability--characteristics that make it a perfect match for the fractional aircraft ownership market.
Embraer president and CEO Frederico Fleury-Curado, commented, "Together, Flight Options and the Phenom 300 are changing the face of private aviation. We´ve developed an ideal jet for the next generation of private air travel; we´re gratified we have the ideal business partner bringing the first order to market."