Embraer Legacy 450

Embraer Legacy 450

Used copies of this midsize jet remain highly capable and are well-priced.

Sixteen years ago, Brazilian airframer Embraer announced its intention to jump headfirst into the midsize-cabin corporate jet market with the Legacy 450 and slightly longer-cabin and longer-range Legacy 500 models. The bold move came a mere four years after the company—which previously had largely limited its ambitions to military and commuter airline aircraft—entered the entry-level/light-jet category with its Phenom series. The Phenom 300 light jet quickly became the bestseller in its class, stoking hopes that the 450 and 500 would repeat this success. 

Initially, it was not to be. 

There was nothing wrong with the airplanes. They offered thoughtfully appointed and spacious cabins, the latest in glass-panel avionics with the Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion system, and fly-by-wire flight controls, the latter a feature that until then had been reserved for jet fighters, some narrowbody airliners, and a small number of large-cabin, long-range business jets. The aircraft, while not the cheapest in their class, delivered spectacular value and followed Embraer’s more-for-less philosophy. 

But the 450 and 500 were challenged by the peculiarities of the midsize market, which was dominated by cost-conscious charter and fractional operators and their customers, who were often equally parsimonious, even at the expense of the latest technology and passenger comfort. Not surprisingly, sales of both models started out slow. During their first four years of production, Embraer delivered 59 Legacy 500s and 55 Legacy 450s, according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.

The 450 most closely competes with the Cessna Citation Latitude. Textron Aviation delivered 211 of those during this same period, and Latitude sales were buoyed by an order for 150 of them from fractional provider NetJets, which was flying 100 of those aircraft by 2019 and 191 by this year. The Latitude features a comparable, albeit slightly smaller cabin that measures six feet tall, almost six-and-a-half feet wide, and nearly 22 feet long; the 450 cabin measures six feet tall, almost seven feet wide, and 24 feet long, and the baggage compartment is one-third larger than the Latitude’s at 150 cubic feet. The Latitude’s technology also does not match that of the 450, which features full fly-by-wire digital flight controls. But the 450 was priced nearly $1 million higher than the Latitude. 

Embraer Legacy 450 cockpit

So, Embraer went back to the drawing board, announcing in 2018 enhancements to its Legacy 450 and 500 models with a software tweak of its Honeywell engines to add thrust (on the Legacy 500 only), new winglets, increased fuel capacity, more range, and a refreshed cabin. It rechristened them the Praetor 500 and 600, respectively. (Embraer has a talent for picking odd names for its aircraft beginning with its Phenom light jets nearly 20 years ago. The name “Praetor” refers to the elected magistrate or mayor of the ancient Roman Republic. Catchier, perhaps than naming the aircraft “the politician,” but not by much.) By 2023, the price delta between the Praetor 500 and the Latitude had all but vanished, with both selling for close to $20 million. And that drew the attention of—you guessed it—NetJets. 

Embraer Legacy 450 interior

A Blockbuster Order

In May of this year, that company placed a blockbuster order worth an estimated $5 billion for up to 250 Praetor 500s with deliveries set to begin in 2025. In announcing the order in a joint statement, the two companies noted “NetJets' commitment to creating an enhanced customer experience and trust in Embraer’s industry-leading portfolio and customer support.” NetJets already operates more than 100 Embraer Phenom 300 series light jets and has committed to taking on 100 more. 

The announcement of the deal helped to bolster prices of used Praetor 500s and Legacy 450s in an already tight market. Used 450s manufactured between 2016 and 2020 are selling for $12.35 million to $16.39 million, or 84 to 111 percent of what they cost new, according to the aircraft valuation service Vref. Prices of Praetor 500s manufactured between 2019 and 2023 are fetching prices that are 105 to 120 percent of new—from $16.47 million to $19.43 million. And if you buy a used 450 you can have it converted to a Praetor 500. 

The upgrade involves adding new winglets, additional fuel tank capacity, a new avionics software load, and wing structural reinforcement. The additional fuel capacity boosts the aircraft’s range (NBAA IFR reserves, four passengers, two crew) from 2,900 to 3,340 nautical miles. The modification also includes the addition of the Collins HGS-3500 compact head-up display, which uses synthetic and enhanced vision imagery to help pilots land in poor visibility. Embraer can accomplish the conversion in approximately 30 days at one of its factory or authorized service centers, including those in Connecticut, Florida, Brazil, and France. Through the middle of this year, 31 Legacy 450s had been converted to Praetor 500s. 

But given the price of a new Praetor 500 or the cost of converting a Legacy 450 (which Embraer did not disclose but is likely seven figures), bargain-conscious consumers may want to stick with a used Legacy 450, which remains a highly capable and competitive aircraft in this market space. Its cabin features passenger seating for seven to nine, depending on layout. The lavatory includes a vacuum toilet. The forward cabin can be optioned with a two-place, side-facing divan or a full-size wet or dry galley, and the baggage hold is not only larger than the Latitude’s but even bigger than what you’ll find on some super-medium-size jets. The Honeywell Ovation system controls virtually everything in the cabin and remains compatible with the latest consumer electronics. Cabin altitude is a comfortable 6,000 feet at the 450’s maximum cruising altitude of 45,000 feet and time to climb to 43,000 feet is just 22 minutes. 

Best of all, a used 450 gives you all this in an aircraft that is eight years old or newer for the price of a new light twin jet such as Embraer’s own 300E and sometimes millions less than smaller and shorter-range light mediums such as the new Cessna Citation Ascend. You can easily find vintage 2016 Legacy 450s, sometimes with under 1,000 hours total time, for under $16 million, in recent broker listings. 

The 450 has held its value proposition over time. As they say in Portuguese, “É um acéfalo.” Translation: it’s a no-brainer. 

Embraer Legacy 450 in flight


2016 Embraer Legacy 450 at a Glance

Price: $12 million–$15 million 

Crew: 2 

Passengers: 7–9 

Range: 2,900 nm (4 passengers, NBAA IFR reserves) 

Maximum cruise speed: Mach 0.83

Service ceiling: 45,000 ft

Takeoff distance at maximum weight: 3,907 ft 

Engines: 2 Honeywell HTF7500E, 6,637 lb of thrust each

Avionics: Rockwell Collins ProLine Fusion

Cabin: 6 ft (H), 6 ft 10 in (W), 24 ft (L)

Baggage: 150 cu ft