Pneumonia prevented Brazilian President Luiz Lula da Silva from visiting China this week and, by extension, put an expected order for around 20 Embraer E2 jets on hold.
According to Brazilian outlets, the announcement of the sale of E195-E2 aircraft to Chinese airlines was ready to be unveiled during the meeting between Lula and Xi Jinping, the president of China.
The possible Chinese order, the first in 5 years, has been commented on by people involved with the official visit, which mobilized the Brazilian business community.
In 2022, the Brazilian planemaker participated in the Zhuhai Air Show, in China, where it was announced that the E190-E2 had been certified by the country’s civil aviation authorities.
But it is the E195-E2 variant that shows great potential in the Chinese air travel market. With capacity for around 130 passengers, Embraer’s largest commercial jet fits between the regional model ARJ21 (90 seats) and the new C919 (168 seats), both produced by state-owned COMAC.
Therefore, it is an aircraft that can fill an important gap for Chinese airlines, as it is unlikely that a local product will be developed in the short term.
Assembly line in China
It is no wonder that the manufacturer’s CEO, Francisco Gomes Neto, has commented that Embraer welcomes a possible partnership with the Chinese government to make projects in the country feasible.
Among the options evaluated are an E2 assembly line in China or passenger-to-cargo aircraft conversion programs, maintenance services, development of sustainable fuels and the supply of components.
It all depends on the level of commitment of the Chinese authorities to the project, as business is not done there without the approval of the Communist Party.
Certainly, the E2 family could be the spearhead of a broader movement. China, for example, still does not develop business aircraft and is also expected to be an important market for eVTOLs such as the subsidiary Eve develops.
A new date for Lula’s visit to China is being considered for mid-April. Until then, the president’s health will be monitored not only by his voters, but also by some executives at Embraer’s headquarters, in São José dos Campos.