Brazil’s Embraer will decide on the platform for a new aircraft program by the end of this year, company executive vice president Mauro Kern told AIN today. Kern’s revelation came just days after the company announced the establishment of a new division called New Programs–Airline Market to explore potential markets and options for a successor to its line of 70- to 110-seat airliners.
Embraer will initially staff the new division with between 30 and 40 employees, said Kern, then expand it to employ “in the hundreds” by the time the company decides on a new platform by year-end. Recruited to lead the new division full time, Kern last served as Embraer’s executive vice president for the airline market–a position he filled for now CEO Frederico Curado when Curado took the reins of the company from retired chief executive Mauricio Botelho.
“It looks like we’re coming closer on a decision on what to do next,” said Kern. “And [the new division] is about bringing more energy and focus to that.”
Embraer has talked about developing a larger model to compete with Bombardier’s C Series, stretching the existing E195 airframe or even of perhaps introducing a new large regional turboprop.
Kern still wouldn’t identify the most likely scenario, but he did note that recent market trends have curtailed interest in a turboprop somewhat. Although he said that studies continue into turboprop platforms, Embraer’s first concern will likely center on how best to approach the 100- to 120-seat jet market, as well as a strategy for addressing the segments covered by the C Series and potentially re-engined Boeing and Airbus narrowbodies.
“As time passes the scenarios are becoming more clear in terms of what our competitors are doing or intend to do,” said Kern. “And the technology scenarios–the engine manufacturers’ visions and ideas and willingness and aggressiveness–this is all becoming more and more clear.”
Depending on how ambitious the project becomes and what strategies the competition pursues, Kern said Embraer aims to introduce the new airplane some time between the middle and second half of this decade.