Embraer, nearing the first delivery of a Legacy 500 to a customer in Brazil, broke ground Oct. 9 on a 236,000-sq.-ft. expansion of its Melbourne, Florida, campus to house activities from assembly through delivery of its Legacy 500 and 450 models.

The expansion will provide Embraer with a major presence in the Melbourne market, doubling its current footprint there and creating another 600 jobs over four years beginning in 2016. This would build total employment at the Melbourne campus to a total of 1,000 workers.

Embraer President and CEO Frederico Fleury Curado told attendees of the groundbreaking ceremony that the expansion is a key part of a strategy to make Embraer a more global company and is particularly important since so many suppliers come from the North American market.

The Oct. 9 groundbreaking was attended by Florida Gov. Rick Scott, along with Brevard County and city officials. The groundbreaking comes just a few weeks after Embraer formally opened its engineering and technology center, which had already added 75,000 sq. ft. and 70 jobs to the site. That facility is ultimately expected to house 200 workers.

The latest expansion will involve four buildings. The assembly facility will be built onto the existing Phenom assembly site, forming an L-shape. This will involve some careful construction of temporary walls to prevent too much disruption of the Phenom 100 and 300 assembly. Other new structures will house paint, completion/flight preparation and delivery.

The Brazilian airframer opened the Phenom 100 and 300 assembly center in Melbourne in 2009, followed by a customer center in 2011. The first Melbourne-assembled Phenom 100 was delivered in 2011 to Executive AirShare. Melbourne-assembled 300s followed in 2013.

Embraer Executive Jets President Marco Tulio Pellegrini notes that Embraer was able to employ its latest technologies in designing the center with lean manufacturing. It is its first paperless facility and is, he believes, "one of the most modern in the world."

The company had been assembling four Phenoms a month in Melbourne, but is ramping that up to five a month. The center has assembled 80 jets over the past three years.

Embraer secured Brazilian approval for the 500 in August and is expecting first delivery shortly. U.S. certification is also anticipated within weeks. Meanwhile, the smaller twin 450 is on pace for certification and delivery next year, a year behind the 500.

The first Legacy deliveries from Melbourne are anticipated in the second half of 2016. But Pellegrini says 2016 will primarily be used to set up the assembly process, and he does not expect many deliveries in that year. The facility will have the capacity to build six aircraft per month.