Embraer Launches Revamped E-Jets
Embraer has chosen this Paris Air Show as the venue to launch its second generation E-Jet, now known as the E2. The company plans to reveal further details of the project here today and possibly announce a launch customer.
First revealed more than a year and a half ago, plans for the E-Jet upgrade centers on exchanging the General Electric CF34 engine for Pratt & Whitney’s PW1000G geared turbofan. Other improvements include a new, higher-aspect wing, improved avionics, full fly-by-wire flight controls, a new interior and “enhanced connectivity” in the cabin.
Scheduled for entry into service (EIS) in the first half of 2018, the 97- to 114-passenger E190-E2 would serve as the baseline model and retain its current seating capacity. However, the second model scheduled for EIS–the E195-E2–would carry three more rows of four-abreast passenger seats than the current E195 holds, giving it a maximum high-density capacity of 144 passengers once it enters service in 2019. Finally, the smallest of the three models, the E175-E2, would enter service in 2020 and carry one more row of seats, raising its capacity range to 80 to 90 seats. Embraer has opted to exclude the 70-seat E170 from the project.
Although Embraer has portrayed the E2 as only a study up until now, it has apparently reached a fairly mature stage of definition given the range of suppliers Embraer has already chosen. Since announcing in January that Pratt & Whitney would supply the engines, Embraer has revealed the identity of virtually all its major suppliers, including Honeywell, which has agreed to supply its Primus Epic 2 avionics suite.
The decision to retain Honeywell in the cockpit ended speculation that Embraer might switch to another supplier as a result of “teething” troubles it experienced following entry-into-service of the current E-Jet line. Speaking with AIN on the day of the announcement in early February, Embraer Commercial Aviation COO Luis Carlos Affonso noted that the company did seriously consider offers from Garmin and Rockwell Collins, but that the design maturity of Epic 2, its commonality with the current Epic system in today’s E-Jets and its technical advances tipped the competition in favor ofHoneywell.
“The main issue [with the current system] was really maturity more than reliability, all the software being developed and so forth,” said Affonso. “This time, in sticking with the incumbent, we believe it will be very good for thematurity.”
Not an entirely new system, the Epic 2 borrows much of its architecture from today’s Epic, explained Affonso. “The architecture, with the boxes and so forth, the data buses and all those things that took us lots of time to develop, all these are the same,” henoted.
Scheduled for service introduction in 2018, the second-generation E-Jets will also benefit from a new flight management system (FMS) that Embraer plans to first integrate into the current-generation airplanes by 2015, said Affonso.
“The next-generation FMS will have several addition functionalities,” he said. “I believe the current FMS is quite reliable, but the new one will have some important functions such as the cost index.” The cost index feature–a system now used on new larger airplanes but new to regional jets–helps pilots choose the most economical altitude or thrust, for example, for a particularmission.
Affonso also described the new FMS as key to equipping the E-Jets with the technology needed for plans to convert the current ground-based radar surveillance system to a satellite-based system known as NextGen. “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 scenario,” heexplained.
More recently, during last month’s Regional Airline Association convention in Montreal, Embraer Commercial Aviation CEO Paulo Cesar de Souza e Silva wouldn’t offer further details of the new E2’s expected performance attributes beyond the expectation that the airplanes will offer double-digit operating cost gains over the currentmodels. “We would prefer to wait to elaborate, because if I talk now I would not talk as I should be talking to express to you how bullish we are on thisaircraft,” he said.
Today Silva will get his chance to do just that.