CityFlyer preps to fly first E170 from LCY

 - August 28, 2009, 8:06 AM

British Airways regional subsidiary BA CityFlyer expects to take delivery of its first Embraer E170 some time around September 10 and initially use the 70-seat regional jet for basic flight-crew familiarization and circuit training, according to flight-operations general manager Carl Phelan. Based at London City Airport (LCY), the airline plans to begin flying its first E170 in scheduled service to Edinburgh on September 28. The carrier has ordered six 76-seat E170s and five larger 98-passenger E190SRs, scheduled for delivery at roughly monthly intervals. CityFlyer has also taken options on a further three E190SRs.

BA CityFlyer has hired international flight-training group Oxford Aviation Academy (OAA) to train its more than 100 Avro RJ85/RJ100 pilots over the next five years to fly the E170/ E190SR. It chose OAA from several European training facilities approved to offer flight-crew training covered by its Embraer purchase contract.

The airline’s first course of three weeks’ ground school and three weeks’ simulator training to convert instructors to the new aircraft began at OAA’s center near London Gatwick Airport in July, said Phelan, who noted the first batch of line pilots would follow shortly. OAA will instruct them up to the E170 license level, after which BA CityFlyer will train them in company operating procedures for which the airline will dry-lease OAA’s E170/E190SR simulator.

Embraer obtained airworthiness approval in May 2007 for the E170 to operate the requisite 5.5-degree steep approaches into LCY’s short runway. It expects to gain European Aviation Safety Agency clearance for the E190 by year-end, ahead of services to begin with the larger aircraft next March. The manufacturer claims both ERJ variants offer more than 800 nm of range with full passenger loads out of LCY.

E190 flight testing at the docklands airport, some six miles away from London’s financial district, occurred earlier this year and included noise monitoring; the smaller E170’s sound levels fall “below [those of] current jets” operating there, according to the manufacturer. To perform the steep approaches, Embraer has developed additional fly-by-wire (FBW) software to operate two outer spoiler panels on each wing to generate increased aerodynamic drag and related higher descent rates. An initial plan, since scrapped, had considered introduction of a belly-mounted airbrake.

Embraer claims 90-percent commonality between the two variants’ FBW systems, which feature a single extra button on the pilot’s console to select “steep approach.” The manufacturer says the E170 and E190 will burn about 25 percent less fuel per seat than the BAe 146-200/Avro RJ85 and 146-300/RJ100 equipment they will replace at LCY.

To provide the E170/E190 training, OAA has acquired a dual-fit level-D full flight simulator (modified for steep-approach exercises), computer-based training equipment, flight-management system trainers and an integrated procedures trainer. The OAA group operates facilities in Australia, China, Denmark, Hong Kong, Japan, Latvia, Norway, Sweden, the UK and the U.S.

OAA comprises a re-branding of the merged (or acquired) former BAe Systems Regional Aircraft Customer Training, GE Commercial Aviation Training, General Flying Services, Oxford Air Training School, Parc Aviation and SAS Flight Academy businesses and has almost 50 simulators and eight type-training centers worldwide.