Paris Air Show

Embraer Improves E-Jet E2 Performance Figures

 - June 14, 2017, 12:00 PM

On the eve of the 2017 Paris Airshow, Embraer upped the performance figures for two of its in-development E2 regional jets, increasing the range and MTOW for the flagship E195-E2, and boosting the hot/high and short-field performance numbers for the E190-E2.

The E195-E2’s maximum range, previously 2,450 nm, is now 2,600 nm, while MTOW climbs 800 kg (1,763 lb) from 60,700 to 61,500 kg (133,821 to 135,584 lb). Meanwhile, the E190-E2’s new hot/high performance charts extend range to a maximum of 2,500 nm, depending on the departure point; flights from Denver, for example, get an additional 200 nm of range. The short field revision extends the E190-E2’s range to a minimum 1,750 nm, adding 100 nm on departures from London City Airport. The increases come from “flaps and slats optimization” and the results of flight tests, said John Slattery, president and CEO of Embraer Commercial Aviation. “We were conservative at the outset [with performance projections],” he added.

Slattery makes a case for an expanding global role for regional jets, extending from low-cost carriers to major airlines, and the E2 family—whose third member is the E175-E2—as best positioned to serve the 70-to-130 seat market. He cited demand drivers including:“the enormous number of aircraft [more than 5,500 in the 70-to-150 seat segment] that are aging and getting beyond their useful utility life,” along with “today’s more disciplined management teams driven by capacity discipline, cost controls [and] a focus on returning investors’ money,” along with “the fallacy of a single fleet type as the way to go.

It’s nonsense; it doesn’t stack up,” he added of the single-model fleet as an exemplar of efficiency. “When an airline gets to a critical mass of size, to complement the larger fleet with a smaller fleet is important. Airlines will need smaller gauge of equipment; there’s plenty of markets to be served with 100- to 130-seat aircraft.”

Embraer already claims 61 percent of the market for 70- to 130-seat jets, and with the E2s, “Opportunities to expand our franchise footprint are enormous,” Slattery said. “We elected to have three points of optimization. Each of the three aircraft has a bespoke wing. We optimized each member of the family. That’s never been done before. We believe this wing is the most efficient wing in world; it has the highest aspect ratio [the ratio between width and length] of any narrowbody today. It’s a marriage between wings, engines and fuselages.”

Twenty Years

Here at Le Bourget, Embraer (Chalet 314, Static C2) is marking the 20th anniversary of its first jet sale, an ERJ145 to what is now HOP!, Air France’s regional subsidiary. An aircraft in signature livery is on display, and the milestone will be feted at the static display tomorrow [Tuesday, 6/20].

Embraer now has 73 E145 operators in 40 countries, while total orders for E-Jets as of March stood at 1,749, with 1,317 delivered and a backlog of 450. (The commercial division produces about 100 per year.) The jet fleet has accumulated some 20 million flight hours with a dispatch reliability rate of 99.92 percent, claims the company. “Only eight flights in 1,000 go technical,” Slattery said.

The Brazilian OEM is also displaying its 195-E2 prototype, dubbed the “Profit Hunter,” in the flight demonstrations and on static. It’s unmistakable, with its front end painted to resemble a Golden Eagle. (“The most successful animal of prey in the sky—perfectly suited to its environment, viciously effective in achieving its goal. And the E2 is like that too,” said Slattery).

When the nose art concept was initially devised, Embraer found creating a decal would be cost-prohibitive. A paint shop employee who is also an artist volunteered to undertake the painting, coming in nightly with an assistant to work on the project. Embraer has brought both employees here to enjoy the acclaim their artwork is receiving. “It speaks to culture of Embraer,” Slattery said of the project and its denouement. “We believe a key to our success is our people.”

At E2 cabin mockup is on view at the Embraer Pavilion, and attendees can also tour the interior via virtual reality.

Turboprop Replacer

Embraer sees additional market opportunity for E2s in replacing turboprops on flights that exceed 300 nm, which represent 30 percent of all commercial turboprop operations today, Slattery said. “That [amount of] time in current-generation turboprops is proving to be less than satisfactory [for passengers].” He pointed to Alaska Airlines affiliate Horizon’s order announced last year for 30 E175s to replace its existing Bombardier Q400 fleet as a harbinger of deals to come.

Back in Brazil, the flight test programs for the E190-E2 and E195-E2 are on schedule, with the 190 past the mid-point (53 percent complete) and slated for certification in the first half of 2018. The E195-E2 is scheduled to follow in 2019. Four 190-E2 and one E195-E2 prototypes are currently flying, with a second E195-E2 joining the program later this year. (The two models have identical cockpits.)

As of early June the programs had accumulated 940 flight and 2,160 ground test hours. Launch operator for the E190-E2 is Widerøe, the Nordic regional carrier, which is transitioning from Bombardier Q400 turboprops. Low-cost carrier Azul Brazilian Airlines is launch operator for the E195-E2.

Certification for the E175-E2 has been moved back 12 months, and is now set for 2021. This is for two reasons, Slattery said. The first is to await possible developments on airline pilot scope clause agreements in the U.S., which limit outsourcing of flights aboard aircraft exceeding 76 seats. This affects sales in what is the world’s largest market for regional jets. North America accounts for just under one-third of the orders for 70- to 130-seat jets). The second reason is because “The E175 continues to sell well, and we will see more orders for the 175 this year,” said Slattery. Certification of the E190-E2 is more than halfway complete, and the wing bending test, a critical milestone, was successfully performed at the end of May.

Slattery admitted Embraer has had “limited success in penetrating low-cost carriers, particularly in Southeast Asia,” but sees a turnaround coming. “We believe we’re at the front end of low-cost carriers around the world augmenting their mainline fleets with larger regional jets.” Part of the impetus for change comes from new-found government support for the growth of regional air travel, such as India’s “opening to regional jets for the first time.”

Others, principally Bombardier with its C Series, also plan to compete for such orders, he acknowledged. Comparing the E2s to the CS100, Bombardier’s new regional jet, Slattery noted the CS100 “sits between the 190 and 195” in capacity, giving Embraer an advantage in head-to-head competition. Additionally, he noted, unlike the C Series’ five-abreast seating, Embraers have no middle seat (“so everyone has an aisle or a window”), and no bars under the seats to impede bag placement.

Overhead bin size has been increased (“Every single customer can take a rolling bag on”) and the bins open upward, rather than downward. “We’re the only Next Generation narrowbody to have won a Crystal Cabin award,” he added. “In a fair and balanced campaign, we think airlines, when shown the capabilities, the economics are very compelling. Add with the incremental news, like hot and high performance, or extra range, it starts to become a very compelling proposition for airlines.”

Asked to expand upon his “fair and balanced” statement, in light of Brazil’s complaint before WTO over Canadian Government funding for Bombardier’s C Series regional airliner, and Boeing’s Federal suit claiming the OEM “dumped” the jets in its deal with Delta announced in 2016, Slattery said, “As an independent manufacturer, it’s our position that fair and balanced commercial trade is the way to go. We are supporting Brazil in their action at World Trade Organization, and we are following closely the current proceedings Boeing has undertaken. We have no more comment on that.”

But Slattery stresses Embraer doesn’t consider forthcoming narrowbodies from Boeing or its European counterpart as rivals in the E2 market. “We’re not competing with Airbus or Boeing with the neo or MAX,” he said. “We believe the E-jets are perfectly matched to complement these bigger aircraft.” 

Nearly 900 ERJ145s, in 37-, 44- and 50-seat configurations, have been delivered to date. The E-Jets, which entered service in 2004, consist of the E170, E175, E190 and E195. The second generation E-Jets E2 family was announced in 2013.

Meanwhile, some 100 carriers in 60 countries provide a ready market for pre-owned E-Jets, giving Embraer a “critical mass of operators” that perpetuates the sales cycle. “As operators want to exit the aircraft, if you have a second operator to take it over, the organization will buy new,” Slattery said. “We’re already seeing that.”