As the emirate of Dubai helds its biennial international airshow last month, travelers from anywhere but a major city were feeling first hand the pressures against a robust regional-airline industry in the Arab world.
The largest member of Embraer’s E-Jet line of single-aisle airplanes is making its international airshow debut here in Paris, only a week after the Brazilian airframe builder landed a launch order for 14 from the UK’s FlyBE. The Exeter-based low-fare, full-service carrier plans to replace its fleet of aging BAe 146 quadjets with the Brazilian twin, scheduled for delivery from August 2006 to November 2007.
Bombardier Aerospace announced yesterday that Exeter, UK-based FlyBe has converted four options on the Bombardier Q400 turboprop airliners to firm orders. The contract is valued at about $100 million. Delivery of the four aircraft, coupled with the order for 20 Q400s announced January 27, will increase FlyBe’s Q400 fleet to 45 aircraft. Yesterday’s contract increases orders for the Q400 to 151 aircraft.
The so-called regional jet revolution has in the minds of many rendered turboprops a quaint throwback to the days of “commuter” airlines. But this year’s spate of big orders for new turboprops has turned conventional wisdom on its ear, giving the last two Western builders of prop-driven airliners a renewed sense of vitality.
Exeter, UK-based Flybe has agreed to buy most of British Airways’ BA Connect subsidiary. In return, BA will take a 15-percent stake in Flybe, which plans to retire all the BA Connect airplanes now in the British Airways stable and replace them with Bombardier Q400s and Embraer E195s. British Airways CEO Willie Walsh told reporters he expected to conclude the deal by year-end.
The European Aviation Safety Agency has presented Embraer with a type certificate for its E-195 airliner, the largest airplane in its stable and the last member of the company’s flagship E-Jet family. The approval comes a little more than two weeks after Brazil’s new certification authority granted its approval and clears the way for deliveries to the 195’s first European operator, FlyBE.
This is Mauricio Botelho’s last Farnborough International show as chief executive of Embraer. Next April he will hand over the reins to an as yet unnamed successor, before assuming the position of chairman for a two-year term and then retiring from the Brazilian airframer, having presided over a remarkable transformation of the group’s fortunes.
Brazil’s Embraer passes another critical milestone in its meteoric development this month with EASA certification of the largest of its four-member family of E-Jets, the 108- to 118-seat Embraer 195. Although it marks the formal market introduction of the last airliner project on Embraer’s research and development ledger, the approval by no means signals the end of the company’s work in the commercial realm, or even on this series.
Bombardier’s Q400 turboprop continues to steal the spotlight from the company’s regional jet offerings, most recently drawing a firm order for another four examples from Flybe during last month’s Paris Air Show. The option conversion, coupled with an order for 20 Q400s announced in January, will increase Flybe’s Q400 fleet to 45 aircraft.
Embraer entered the Paris Air Show on a roll last month and exited with a flourish, signing orders for fourteen 118-seat 195s with Flybe and twenty 190s with GECAS. The Brazilian company also found a new route to India with a preliminary commitment for two Embraer 170s and three 175s from start-up airline Paramount Airways.