Engine maker General Electric may have inadvertently exposed the identity of the Embraer 190 program’s second customer when it told an audience gathered at an ERA press conference that Panama’s Copa Airlines will acquire at least twenty 18,500-pound-thrust CF34-10Es–variants specifically developed to power the 98-seat regional jet. By the time of the show, neither Embraer nor the airline had confirmed the order, but only a week later, the manufacturer announced that Copa did, in fact, place a firm order for 10 of the airplanes. First delivery, scheduled for next November, would mark the first time the Panamanian airline accepts any airplane type other than a Boeing.
GE small commercial-engine marketing general manager Ron Hutter included a Copa order under the company’s 2004 “firm commitments,” making a total of 410 such orders for engines in the first nine months of the year. He said GE would meet a 450-order target by the end of next month, equivalent to the company’s performance last year.