SAO JOSE DOS CAMPOS, Brazil, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer reported major gains in new orders for commercial and executive jets in 2012 and some early gains in sales this year.
The company says it delivered 23 commercial and 53 business jets during the fourth quarter of 2012, closing the year with 106 airplanes delivered to the airline market and 99 to executive aviation. At the end of the year, Embraer's order backlog stood at $12.5 billion, the company said.
This month Embraer reported further growth in back orders after it secured a sale of 20 regional jets. The buyer has not been identified.
Embraer has rapidly emerged as a major rival to aviation manufacturers from North America and Europe and, since last year, has begun branching out in defense transport. The Brazilian firm already has challenged U.S. competitors on lightweight attack aircraft EMB-314 Super Tucano and is trying to secure a U.S. Air Force order that was canceled last year on a reported technicality.
The company is the world's largest maker of regional jets, short- to medium-range turbofan powered airliners deployed mostly by civilian operators on continental flights. As Embraer's portfolio grows it has emerged as major rival to Canada's Bombardier Inc.
However, amid a global economic downturn, Embraer has also struggled to keep its sales at a steady level and hopes that orders in 2013 will keep its production slots occupied.
Early hopes of securing more U.S. orders were dashed by Bombardier gains in the area. A large Delta Air Lines Inc. order for regional jets went to Bombardier, instead of Embraer.
Embraer aims to profit from rising demand for smaller jets which rose in 2012 over 2011. The planemaker will be concentrating this year on selling more of its larger executive jets.
Embraer aimed to sell 15 to 20 of the larger executive jets but bettered itself and secured contracts for 22 of the aircraft.
The manufacturer is also aiming to revamp its E-jet range and replace the GE Aviation CF-34 engines with the Pratt & Whitney engines, the cincinnati.com website reported.
Embraer "is betting its revamped E-jet will win a greater share of the shrinking regional market because airlines prefer revamped versions of current aircraft to risking delays and malfunctions in new models," the news outlet said.
Embraer says it has proved to be competitive in price and features of commercial jets up to 120 seats and aggressively marked the aircraft through offices, industrial operations and customer service facilities in China, France, Portugal, Singapore, and the United States.