Embraer had achieved 365 order commitments at the start of the Paris Air Show in June, but its most exciting news came during the event when it launched its next generation of EJets, the E2 family.
The programme updates, and in some cases stretches, the existing EJet family of E175, E190 and E195 aircraft.
The first E2 aircraft to enter service will be the E190-E2, which is due to start commercial flights in 1H 2018. The E195-E2 will enter the following year and the E175-E2 in 2020.
One of the most significant changes will be delivered by Pratt & Whitney, which is supplying its PurePower Geared Turbofan (GTF) high by-pass ratio engines, namely the PW1700G for the E175-E2 and the PW1000G for the E190-E2 and E195-E2.
Further changes to the aircraft will include better aerodynamics, including new wings (the E175-E2 will have a different wing from the E190 and E195 as it has a different engine), fourth generation full fly-by-wire controls and improved avionics.
“The application of advanced technologies for engines, wings and avionics, distinguishes the EJets E2 by providing airlines with maximum efficiency gains and no compromises, while maintaining commonality with current EJets,” Paulo Cesar Silva, president and CEO of Embraer Commercial Aviation, told AFM.
“This makes the E2 appealing to current EJets operators,” Silva explained. “We follow a similar strategy to Boeing and Airbus by offering new generation products that hold high commonality with current generation ones, leveraging our existing extensive customer base.”
The E2 cockpit will also have commonality with that of the current generation EJets, meaning pilots can transition between the two without need for much training. The E2s will include Honeywell’s Primus Epic 2 advanced integrated avionics, which is “an evolution of the existing Primus Epic on current generation EJets,” says Silva. Differences are that it has larger landscape displays, advanced graphics capabilities, and a next generation flight management system (NGFMS).
Moog is supplying the fly-by-wire system, Rockwell Collins the horizontal stabiliser control system and UTC Aerospace Systems the wheels, brakes, APU and electrical system, although those are just a few of the suppliers.
Bang for your buck
So aside from all the technicalities, how does the E2 really differ from the EJet family and what can customers expect for their money? Well, in short, the promise is that they can fly longer, with more people, for less money.
So let us look at the price tag first. List prices are $46.8m for an E175-E2, $53.6m for an E190-E2 and $60.4m E195-E2, although discounts will obviously apply.
What do you get for your money? Embraer projects that it will pump $1.7bn into the new family over the next eight years, and that investment will mean cost savings for the customer. “We are not just re-engining the EJet,” says Silva. “We decided to invest more than a simple re-engine programme. By developing new wings, implementing a fourth generation full fly-by-wire and enhancing several other systems, this allows us to offer more benefits to our customers, exploring all the advantages but still avoiding all the inherent risks of a 100 per cent new design.”
In this way, Embraer has taken a route similar to Bombardier, which added an advanced fly-by-wire cockpit, composite wing, aluminium lithium fuselage, geared turbofan and electric brakes to the CSeries, but stopped short of a full make-over.
“Other systems – hydraulic systems, air management systems, batteries – we chose not to take the next step in technology,” explained Bombardier’s commercial SVP, Chet Fuller, during the International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading (ISTAT) in Tokyo, in May. “Some things can only get so good, so there really isn’t any advantage of taking a new step with some technologies.”
The E190-E2 will be able to cover a range of 2,850nm, an increase of 450nm from the current version. The E175-E2 and E195-E2 will stay much the same at 2,000nm and 2,200nm, respectively.
The E175-E2 will offer up to 88 seats (in a single-class configuration, or 80 seats in dual class), making it one seat-row longer than today’s E170. The 106-seat (or 97 seats in dual class) E190-E2 will stay the same size as its predecessor, the E190. The E195-E2 will grow to 132 seats (or 144 with slim seats or 118 seats in dual class), making it three rows longer than the E195.
These specifications make the E175-E2 suited to regional operations; the E190-E2 ideal for business, mainline, regional and low-fare services; and the E195-E2 works excellently for high volume mainline or low-fare operations and delivers good economics with a low cost per seat. Embraer also claims that the new family will deliver double-digit reductions in fuel consumption, noise, emissions and maintenance costs.
It promises that each aircraft will save 15 per cent in direct maintenance costs, which means a saving of between $1m and $1.5m over a five-year period.
Considering typical dual-class configurations in a North American environment, the E175-E2 will have a nine per cent lower cost per trip and a 13 per cent lower cost per seat than its current generation counterpart. The E195-E2 will deliver a seven per cent and 16 per cent reduction respectively, and the E190-E2 will bring a 10 per cent improvement in both segments, compared with the existing E190, says Silva.
Overall, the E2 family will deliver similar costs per seat to narrowbodies, but significantly lower trip costs. For example, compared with the A319, the E190-E2 has a five per cent lower operating cost per seat and 20 per cent less fuel burn.
The fight for space
There has been much discussion over whether Embraer is encroaching on Boeing and Airbus’ territory, but despite comparisons to narrowbodies, Embraer claims that is not the case.
While the E190-E2 and E195-E2 can offer similar amenities to narrowbodies, the smaller jets allow airlines to ‘right-size’ their operations, making lower density, thin routes more profitable. It also allows airlines to trial new routes without as much financial risk. The manufacturer claims the jets are ideally positioned between larger next generation aircraft, single-aisle jets and smaller regional aircraft.
“We defined our product positioning strategy to complement the larger narrowbodies, rather than becoming a direct competitor,” says Silva.
Speaking at ISTAT, John Slattery, Embraer’s chief commercial officer, claimed the company does not want to “dance on the toes of giants”.
He continued: “Over the next 20 years, up to 7,000 units need delivering in our sector of the market – that’s 70-120 seats approximately. This is a market where we are currently market share leader and that is a position we want to continue and consolidate. How are we going to do that? We are going to continue to invest in our existing aircraft. We are not taking our eye off the ball by trying to dance with bigger competitors; we are focusing on our marketplace.”
With Boeing and Airbus’ knowledge, wealth and customer base, it is perhaps wise for Embraer not to see itself as David to their Goliath. Besides, Embraer already has a growing number of competitors.
Within this sphere, Bombardier offers the 110- to 160-seat CSeries family; COMAC promises the 78-seat ARJ21; Sukhoi has the 95-seat Superjet 100; and Mitsubishi offers 70 to 90 seats on its MRJ family.
So how does the E2 family compete? “The E190-E2 is ideally sized for the 100-110 seat market, which the CS100 is too large to address. It also offers a six per cent better fuel burn per trip compared to the CS100 and 20 per cent better fuel burn per trip compared to the A319 Neo and 737-7 MAX,” Silva explains to AFM.
“Against the re-engined A319 neo and 737-7 MAX narrowbodies, the E195-E2 has a 15 per cent better fuel burn per trip and almost 10 per cent better fuel burn per seat.”
He adds that the E195-E2 is designed to be larger than the current E195 but smaller than the A319 neo and 737-7 MAX, while offering a lower cost per seat. “They are designed for different missions, in terms of performance, and don’t compete directly.” This differs from Bombardier’s CS300, says Silva, which is a direct competitor to Boeing and Airbus products. The E195-E2 competes directly with the CS100, offering similar fuel burn per trip and about 10 per cent better fuel per seat.
“The current E175-E1 already offers a four per cent fuel burn advantage when compared to the CRJ900, and the E175-E2 will have an advantage in excess of 15 per cent.”
Also speaking at ISTAT, John Buckley, Superjet’s VP of business development for North America, talked about the “tremendous investment” and “steep learning curve” needed to compete in the aircraft manufacturing market.
“Everyone has had a progressive introduction into this market. For someone like ourselves, or Mitsubishi, it really is plunging into the deep end with absolutely enormous amounts of investment [and] enormous amounts of recurring costs.”
This gives Embraer, which was founded in 1969, the competitive advantage. It also means that the market (one hopes and expects) will not get any more competitive than it is already.
“Because of this tremendous investment, I don’t think any new manufacturers are going to emerge in the marketplace beyond what we see today,” said Buckley. “It certainly means that nobody is going to build another 100-seater, or even a 130-seater. Those aircraft that are already there are going to evolve. We are going to tweak them. We are already working on aerodynamic modifications to reduce fuel burn.”
What that means is that newcomers, and their customers, will find the cost of future clean sheet aircraft too high and that manufacturers will instead modify current offerings.
Buckley said that Sukhoi already has plans to stretch the Superjet to between 120 and 130 seats, fitting into the top end of the regional aircraft types.
“We believe the 100-seat aircraft is really a nation-building aircraft. In countries where aviation is starting, where disposable income is not what it is in Europe and the United States, it is an ideal size.”
Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary recently said the ‘sweet spot’ for his low-cost operations is 200 seats; regional carriers look for less capacity but are still increasing their seats across the board.
Although airlines have different views on what the ‘spot’ is, Embraer is clearly pitched for sweet success.