Next Thursday, September 12, Embraer will add another milestone in its long and successful 50-year career. On that day, the Brazilian manufacturer will deliver the first unit of the E195-E2, the largest passenger jet designed and built in Brazil, to Azul airline.
To understand the impact of the new aircraft just remember that it is capable of carrying the equivalent of almost eight Bandeirante turboprops, the first Embraer aircraft. In a single class (28 inch pitch), the E195-E2 can carry 146 passengers aboard at a distance of 2,600 nm, enough range to fly from Boston to San Diego nonstop.
But it is in operating economy that the new Embraer jet promises to differentiate itself. According to the homologation tests, the E195-E2 was able to consume 25.4% less fuel per seat than the E195. It is an “abyss” about cost patterns in aviation, something so significant that it can make profitable routes that would otherwise be a loss. The E195-E2 promises more by taking about 20 more passengers than its predecessor. By increasing capacity, the Brazilian jet automatically increases seating without the need for more flights on more congested routes.
Under the shadow of the A220
Even with those numerous highlights, the E195-E2 has not attracted much customers yet. It is the most ordered variant of the new family, with 124 firm orders, but of these no less than 51 were ordered by Azul, the only large airline to invest heavily for the Brazilian plane.
The other customers, however, are unimpressive: in addition to 57 units for leasing companies, the E195-E2 took orders from airlines Binter Canarias (5) and Air Peace, with 10 aircraft.
Despite the good news at the Paris Air Show, when KLM Cityhooper announced its intention to order 15 E195-E2 and 20 options, the deal has not yet been signed. Since June, there have been no more orders, although some possibilities have emerged behind the scenes, such as the sale to Belavia and the study being conducted by Aeromexico to replace its old E190.
Incidentally, this deal involves the main competitor of the E195-E2, the current Airbus A220-300, former CS 300. The Canadian aircraft, which took years to develop, has attracted a good number of customers, including JetBlue, a traditional customer from Embraer.
The US airline, founded by businessman David Neeleman, became the launch customer of the E190 in 2003 with an impressive order of 100 aircraft, but in practice was reduced to 60 units.
When the company decided to swap the 100-seat jet for a larger, more economical aircraft, the choice of the E195-E2 seemed natural. It just seemed. In a difficult choice, the company ended up preferring the A220 last year, with an order of 60 units plus 60 options.
With the A220-300, JetBlue will have an aircraft with a capacity closer to its A320 family Airbus, which has a 150 seat lower seat version. It would be something the E195-E2 could do too, but perhaps dealing with just one manufacturer may have favored Airbus.
And it is this expectation that hangs over Embraer and its E2 family. Will the joint venture with Boeing have the same strength as Airbus today? Or was it just for the E195-E2 to debut to show its potential on a major airline for orders to be closed? The answer will begin to be given next Thursday.