Air Astana is hopeful that improvements being certificated on its fleet of Embraer aircraft will overcome some of the operational issues the type has faced in service.
The Kazakh flag carrier’s president, Peter Foster, told reporters in Astana that its fleet of nine Embraer 190s has been a great commercial success in allowing the carrier to open up new routes, but has been “fragile” in its operations.
He says that the aircraft cannot operate in temperatures below -40°C, which can be a frequent occurrence in Air Astana’s network. In some cases, additional engineering checks are required during periods of intense cold.
Engineering sources at the airline say, however, that Embraer has designed a package of improvements aimed at making the aircraft more suited to cold weather operations. It is understood that the package is undergoing certification and will be rolled out on the Air Astana aircraft over the next six months.
The entry into service of the E-190s in 2011 allowed the airline to retire its Fokker 50 turboprops previously used on domestic services. It has also allowed the airline to grow its network further into the central Asia region and reinforced its hubs at Almaty and Astana.
Flightglobal’s Ascend Online database shows that Air Astana operates a fleet of seven E-190s and will receive a further two in 2014. It owns two of the aircraft, with the remainder on operating leases from owners including BOC Aviation, GECAS and Jetscape.