FARNBOROUGH: Embraer studies E-Jet enhancements

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Embraer is using the show to meet with key suppliers to discuss its studies of a technology refresh and possible re-engining of its General Electric CF34-powered E-Jets family, having stopped work on a possible stretch of the E-195 - known as the E-195X - that would have provided a more direct competitor for Bombardier CSeries in terms of capacity. The company is also no longer looking at a small turboprop-powered airliner.

"We consulted many airlines and we don't see the turboprop case moving forward satisfactorily in the future," says Luiz Chiessi, Embraer vice-president market intelligence for the airline market.

"We have put the turboprop aside for the moment. It is not in the mainstream of our studies nowadays. The same can be said for a larger aircraft.

"We are putting most of our efforts into an evolution of the E-Jets, but nothing is decided yet. We intend to continue those studies in the second half of this year, and maybe we'll come to a decision by the end of the year."

He adds: "We are thinking of growing the capacity slightly, because there is room for that. The reception of the airlines to the 195X was quite good, but they were not really enthusiastic about the [range] performance, so we decided not to move into the 195X.

"Now we are thinking about new engines and maybe a new wing if required. That's why we are analysing all of the possibilities."

In the near term, Embraer is looking at new wingtip devices, advanced composite and metallic structures, more advanced avionics, undercarriage-mounted electric motors for taxiing and advanced engines, including Pratt & Whitney's geared-turbofan technology.

"We are in close discussions with GE, but we are not under any obligation to keep the GE engine," says Chiessi.

Further out, the company is studying fuel cell auxiliary power units, carbon-composite nanotubes, second-generation geared-fan engines and health monitoring systems for on-condition maintenance.

In the 2020-25 timeframe, Embraer expects open-rotor engines and new airframe configurations to become feasible, driven primarily by Airbus and Boeing's need to eventually develop all-new 150-seat airliner families. It also sees potential to configure its airliners for single-pilot operation.

"We are just doing the preliminary studies of the integration of open rotor into aircraft of the sizes that we are working with," says Chiessi.