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Embraer’s new bird spreads its wings

Brazil’s Embraer says that in flight and other tests for its E190-E2 and E195-E2, the aircraft type dubbed ‘The Profit Hunter’, is exceeding targets. LARA’s US correspondent, Kathryn B. Creedy, got a bird’s-eye view State-side before it flew the nest.

Embraer says the E190-E2 has added more than 200 nautical miles’ range on hot-and-high take-offs for important airports such as Denver, US as well as improving its short-field take-off capability for key airports like London City in the UK. The new short-field performance increases range by more than 100 nautical miles, says the company, while its E195-E2 range has been boosted by 150 nm to 2,600 nm.

These were two key messages that emerged from a pre-Paris Air Show media day held by Embraer as it celebrated the 20th anniversary of the E-Jet.

But Commercial Aviation CEO John Slattery also provided a great story for the debut of its newly painted E195-E2 that it showed off to journalists, and he teared up as he was telling it.

The company wanted to illustrate how it felt about the E2’s competitiveness and decided the face of an eagle was the perfect image for the aircraft it has dubbed ‘The Profit Hunter’. To get there, however, would have meant spending US$100,000 on a decal – a no-go for something called a profit hunter!

Turns out, however, there was someone closer to hand who could do it – and he worked in Embraer’s paint shop. “Yes, yes,” said Slattery, recalling the conversation when the worker volunteered. “We know, you work in the paint shop.”

“No, but I’m an artist,” said the 40-year-old man, who has never flown but will be introduced to the world in Paris. “I can do it for you.”

For 20 nights, from midnight to dawn, he and an assistant painted the aircraft – by hand – in preparation for its flying Paris premiere 19–21 June. The company has provided the video below highlighting their work (see below).

 

 

Slattery went on to give out solid statistics for the E-Jets family including an order book of 1,749 and deliveries to date of 1,317, leaving a healthy 450-unit backlog. But he also noted that the company enjoys a 61% market share as of March in the 70- to 130-seat jet segment. “The more important metric is not orders; it is deliveries,” Slattery said, adding that incumbent operator footprint is a better metric of market penetration because it speaks not only to a company’s future success but also of aircraft acceptance, which affects residual values.

Slattery also said the company is targeting low-fare carriers for growth with its narrow-body offering, calling the wisdom of a single-type fleet a fallacy and “complete nonsense”. His point is that ULCCs and LCCs must grow beyond the high-volume metro areas where they compete with mainlines.

“The opportunity for them to broaden their footprint with the E2 is enormous,” he said. “The economics speak for themselves. When an airline gets to a critical mass, they will need to expand their footprint and for that they will need smaller equipment. There are a lot of markets for that size of aircraft. I think it is limitless. These are markets they couldn’t reach before. The E-Jets are a profitable match to complement bigger aircraft such as the A320 and the B737. Matching the size of the aircraft to demand gives us a new paradigm as airlines migrate to larger aircraft they can complement them with a smaller, more efficient aircraft one that beats both the 737 and A320 in Skytrax reviews for customer experience.”

Right-sizing aircraft

He noted second and tertiary markets have higher yields as well as a need for right-sizing the aircraft. The smaller aircraft mean increased frequency, and could thus compete better in some of the markets now being served by other regional jets and turboprops. “This is about the cash flow generated by an aircraft,” he said. “Everyone focuses on return on invested capital (ROIC) and cost per available seat mile (CASM) but that is the wrong way to think about it. This is about right-sizing for the mission. It is about generating more profit to the bottom line.”

And he is hoping those words will resonate with more operators of older and smaller Boeing and Airbus equipment who are likely to shed more than 2400 aircraft. “With the new fuel economy and technology, those aircraft are rapidly becoming uncompetitive,” he said.

Indeed, he sees four roles for the E175 and E190/195s, including a natural evolution from smaller aircraft, the ability to offer premium seating in the US regional market, a bridge offering majors and LCCs additional flexibility with a smaller narrowbody and, finally, as a replacement for long-haul turboprops in 300 nm-plus segments. The company is also pushing the fact that it is a four-abreast configuration, eradicating middle seats.

In response to a question about JetBlue’s deliberations on the E190 and complaints the costs are higher than the Airbus A320, Slattery said he agreed. But, he added, what they don’t say is that the revenue per seat mile is 40% higher as well.

Comparisons

Of course, Slattery had to lay on the comparison charts between its small narrowbodies – the E190-E2 versus the Bombardier CS100, and the E195-E2 against the CS 300, B737 and the A319neo, which should provide interesting fodder for discussions along the chalet line.

He also noted the CRJ fuselage fits neatly inside that of the EJets. He, however, acknowledged that high crew costs accounted for the difference and if crew costs were equal there would be no difference.

The company has four aircraft in its E190-E2 flight test programme with an additional E195-E2 having joined the programme. A second E195 will join later this year. So far, they have logged more than 940 flight test hours and 2,160 ground test hours, and expect the E190-E2 certification in the first half of 2018. More than 53% of the programme has been completed.

The Paris crowds will be looking out for this eagle when it swoops in to land.

 

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