Embraer Set To Pick More Suppliers for New E-Jets

 - February 11, 2013, 1:50 PM
Embraer Commercial Aviation COO Luis Carlos Affonso.

Embraer expects to reveal its choice of several major systems contractors for its new second-generation E-Jets over the next three or four months, Embraer Commercial Aviation COO Luis Carlos Affonso told AIN last week as the company announced it is retaining Honeywell as the supplier for the series’ avionics suite and flight management computer. Further contract awards over the next few months will likely go to suppliers of the airplanes’ fly-by-wire system, APU electric system and air management system. “Others will be selected a little down the road,” said Affonso, who noted that the design does not call for the use of a lithium-ion main ship battery.

The choice of Honeywell marked a second major contract award for systems on the proposed new E-Jets, scheduled for industrial launch some time this year and service introduction in 2018. Late last month Embraer chose Pratt & Whitney’s PW1000G Geared Turbofan to power the airplanes.

Under the terms of the latest contract, Honeywell will supply its Primus Epic 2 avionics system, featuring four 13-inch by 10-inch landscape displays, more robust processing capacity with a new Intel i7 processor in several of the circuit boards and “possibly” touch-screen multifunction control display units (MCDUs), depending on Embraer’s preference.

Fortunately for Honeywell, system “maturity” and commonality outweighed the well documented teething problems its Epic system suffered during introduction of the original E-Jets, tipping the competition in its favor over offerings from Garmin and Rockwell Collins.

Not an entirely new system, the Epic 2 borrows much of its architecture from today’s Epic and weighs 45 pounds less, allowing Embraer to incorporate all the hardware needed for a fly-by-wire system, for example, explained Honeywell Aerospace vice president of sales Mike Rowley. Retaining Honeywell as the avionics supplier will also allow for minimal transition training for pilots and mechanics, he added.

Plans call for the second-generation E-Jets to inherit a new flight management system (FMS) that Honeywell expects to certify and integrate into the current-generation airplanes by 2015. The system, based on the FMS Honeywell supplies for the Boeing 747-8, will, along with the central maintenance computer, also carry “advanced” processing capability, said Rowley.

Affonso described the new FMS as “key” to equipping the E-Jets with the technology needed for the program to convert the current ground-based radar system to the NextGen satellite-based system. “This next-generation FMS is, of course, capable of interacting with and allowing for flight planning and navigation and performance capabilities associated with this new air traffic management,” he explained.

As it does in the current series of E-Jets, Embraer will offer head-up displays with the new system, but it hasn’t chosen the supplier yet. Rockwell Collins supplies the head-up displays in today’s airplanes.