Embraer's Curado in no rush to decide on new aircraft programme

Washington DC
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Embraer CEO Frederico Curado continues to maintain the manufacturer does not plan to decide on launching a new aircraft programme for 18 to 24 months, saying the economic downturn could further delay this decision.

The manufacturer's CEO, Frederico Curado, says Embraer continues to study potential new jets and turboprops. But he adds it is premature to predict when Embraer will be ready to pull the trigger because the competitive landscape and timeframe for the availability of new engine technology remains unclear.

Curado also says "the whole crisis has somehow slowed down the whole process" as both manufacturers and airlines are more reluctant to make commitments in the current economic environment. "This crisis doesn't help to clarify long-term visions of airlines," he explains. "Most of the airlines too are in this waiting mode. The crisis takes a little bit of pressure away from a short-term decision."

Embraer has been studying over the last several months a possible new aircraft based on the E-170/190 or launching an entire new aircraft that could compete against the Bombardier C Series. But he says "when and how to launch are still dependent on pieces of the puzzle which are still moving".

One moving piece of the puzzle is Airbus and Boeing since neither has decided when it will launch a new narrowbody and what size it will target. "This whole competitive landscape is a moving piece and there are two major players that haven't decided their move. It's very unclear," Curado says.

He says Embraer would like to know what Airbus and Boeing are doing first because it prefers to avoid developing a product that competes against the two giants. "We can't entertain looking at the higher end of the product line without looking at Airbus and Boeing," Curado explains. "It's not our intention to go head to head with Boeing and Airbus."

The other "moving piece" is engine technology because Embraer does not yet have "sufficient knowledge" to judge which new engine concept will be most successful. He points out the new geared turbofan technology being touted by Pratt & Whitney is unproven and General Electric and Rolls-Royce have other ideas. "It's not that common to have this clash of concepts," Curado says. "The airlines more or less in my perception have similar concerns."

Curado says it is also "premature" for Embraer to decide on whether its next commercial aircraft programme should be a jet or turboprop. "It's not clear. We've been speaking to many airlines. Some are absolutely pro-turboprop. Some are absolutely against turboprop," he says.

He points out Embraer is also not in ant hurry to make a decision on a new aircraft programme because the E-170 and E-190 are still "new airplanes", having only been certified earlier this decade. "They are performing quite well and making money for the airlines. It's not like we have an obsolete and old fashioned product line," Curado says.