Embraer is firming up plans to introduce a twin-turboprop regional aircraft to respond to airlines’ need to significantly reduced operating costs in harsh Covid market conditions. In a podcast interview this week with Air Finance Journal, Rodrigo Silva e Souza, who is marketing vice president of the Brazilian manufacturer’s commercial aviation division, said that the new design could be ready to enter service in 2027.
On October 29, Embraer released conceptual images via Twitter of what looks like a reworked version of its 78-seat E175 twinjet, with a pair of turboprops in place of its turbofans. In a personal tweet referencing the same design, Embraer Commercial Aviation CEO Arjan Meijer referenced it in terms of “check out how we intend to emerge from the pandemic.”
Embraer has previously spoken openly about its plans to introduce a new turboprop to its airliner family. However, Meijer’s predecessor, John Slattery, who earlier this year took over the leadership of GE Aviation, strongly suggested that this program would only go ahead as part of its planned merger with Boeing. This deal fell apart contentiously in April.
In the latest interview, Silva said work on the new program will be stepped up in 2021 and that Embraer is already in serious discussions with a number of undisclosed business partners, who he implied would have a risk-sharing role in the venture. In a week that has seen Mitsubishi suspend work on its 78-seat M90 regional jet, he said Embraer is focused on achieving a leadership position in the sub-150-seat air transport sector.
Embraer, which is due to publish third-quarter financial results on November 10, does not envision the airline market recovering to pre-Covid levels until 2025. However, Silva predicted that domestic routes could recover by 2023, perhaps bolstering the case for turboprop aircraft.
The company’s product line has previously included turboprop aircraft. From the mid-1980s to 2001, it built more than 350 examples of its 30-seat EMB-120 Brasilia.