Serial number 500-00001, the first Legacy 500, rolled out of final assembly in December 2011 at Embraer's Sao Jose dos Campos headquarters plant. The first Honeywell HTF7500E engine runs were completed in January 2012 and taxi tests began in March. The Legacy 500 will be the first super-midsize business aircraft to feature digital fly-by-wire (FBW) flight controls. The Brazilian manufacturer is embracing FBW to ease pilot workload, improve passenger comfort, reduce airframe structural weight and streamline the certification process.

Virtually all required high-speed taxi tests have been completed, but the Legacy 500 won't become airborne until airworthiness approvals for its FBW remote electronic units (REU) are obtained. The REUs are devices that send control signals to the FBW electrohydraulic flight control actuators and they are supplied by Parker Aerospace's Irvine, Calif., facility.

Last year, an on-site audit by Embraer unveiled what it determined were anomalies in Parker's software validation and verification documentation processes that were show stoppers. The Brazilian OEM subsequently stationed its own supervisors at the Parker plant to assure that future software releases for the REUs would meet all Brazilian, FAA and EASA airworthiness requirements.

First flight of s.n. 00001 now is slated for third quarter 2012. The aircraft will be used primarily for flight envelope expansion and performance testing during the development program.

The wing and fuselage of the second flight test aircraft was completed in March 2012 and that aircraft now has undergone electrical power checks. Serial number 00002 will be used for avionics testing, among other tasks. Mating of the fuselage sections of the third flight test aircraft also began in March. Serial number 00003 will be used to evaluate the interior furnishings and to complete function and reliability testing.

Type certification and initial customer deliveries of the 3,000-nm range Legacy 500 are slated for fourth quarter 2014 or first quarter 2015.